I just got home from seeing a movie; it was The Lorax. I am trying to not weep, and I am failing.
Today was “Take Your Kids to Work Day.” It was awesome. My kids got to see all the cool things my company does (we make the computers that made The Lorax film). My kids learned about the environment and ate lunch in our cafeteria. To tie off the day, the company I work for rented a theater for us and showed The Lorax.
It was surreal. I know what “that other theater” looks like from the outside because I’ve driven passed it and parked right next to it several times. It looks enough like “our theater” to put me ill at ease. The facing isn’t the same color, but the shape, the archetype of a modern cineplex . . . it’s close enough to make me feel awkward.
Once inside the lobby it was silent, no bustle, no laughter, just silent . . . like when you’re leaving really late, not like when you’re anxious to see a show. We bought candy because the film was free and I had a gift card. I requested water cups, and the girl at the counter was accommodating to all of my requests, but she was not buoyant. She was subdued, she was stoic. Jim and the kids wandered off to look at posters while she filled the water cups, and I asked her, “How are you all doing, now?”
I didn’t have to say “after,” or make any allusions. She knew exactly what I meant. She said it is strange, and scary. She said it’s hard too because “it’s dead, and they keep sending us home early.” She said very little and it said a lot. Her stoicism broke for a beat or two. I asked her if anyone had asked her how she was doing, and she said no. She was living in the same silence we all have lived in this week. Everyone talked about it Friday, then we stopped talking. What was there to say?
On the way into the theater, a manager passed us. He nodded. He was also stoic. Every employee had that look, the look of discomfort. They looked, probably like all of we silent patrons looked, like people coming back to regular life after someone else’s death. Inside of the theater, it was silent again. Shocking because it was full of children. A few kids made noise, told jokes. It was easy to hear them, and I wondered if they knew. My kids don’t know.
I kept looking toward the entrance, even after everyone sat down, even after the movie first started. I couldn’t help myself. Eventually, for a while I forgot. Then I would remember and look over. Whenever anyone left to go to the bathroom, I looked over, I couldn’t help myself.
Then, I just watched the movie until, not long after it began, the first Truffula tree fell. I watched the woodland creatures and the Lorax join hands around the stump in communal mourning, and I thought about the girl at the counter and wonder if she was going to have trouble making her rent next month. Then I thought about the employees at the “other” theater whose jobs are gone and wondered if there was a sister theater who would offer them work, or if they could ever possibly work at a theater again after what happened six days ago. I wondered if any of us, except the children like mine who we’ve shielded because it is summer and there is no one to tell them, will ever go to the movies like we once did. Probably not, I never go to an airport or get on an airplane like I once did. I never drive by a giant high school and not remember Columbine – even if it is just a glimmer of familiarity, it’s permanent. Once again, and forevermore, we are changed.
For the past week, I’ve felt as though we live in a dystopia. There is so much bickering about guns in our country and so much blood and death and pain in my home state. I am struggling because the Congenital Heart Walk is coming and there were fire fighters who needed supplies, and those who lost homes, and now shooting victims who need our money so badly right now that I don’t even want to try to raise money for CHD. I don’t want to ask for a penny more than were all compelled to give for these urgent and necessary crises. I feel I’ve lost my passion in all of this pain and that I’m failing Liam and the kids. Honestly, part of me wanted to give up. But today, against this strange backdrop of despair, I watched this lovely movie, and at the end, my eyes brimming, I swallowed hard to keep from sobbing. I still have so much hope for what really matters.
I have hope for the young manager with the wounded face. I have hope for the girl who filled my water cups and sold me candy. I have hope for the people in the hospitals with gunshot wounds and for the people in Colorado Springs and West of Fort Collins whose homes burned down. I even have hope for those who lost loved ones six days ago because we are far more than our pain, even when our pain is at its greatest.
I hold fast to my tiny Truffula seed of hope that we can do better and will do better by each other. We can make the world a better place. I believe it. I know it. Colorado may not raise much money in our Congenital Heart Walk this year, and that’s OK. We are wounded, but we WILL walk. We will walk right past that hospital that holds so many victims and we will stop there for a moment of silence and prayer for them. We mourn, we grieve, and we hope.
We will honor our state this year. We will walk, and we will stand proud. It’s not about the money this year especially. But it is about standing tall and being part of something. Just as my family is part of “The Heartland” of those impacted by CHD, the Heartland in Colorado is part of Colorado. I wish my heart was more succinct, but it is brimming today, so I’ll rely on Dr. Seuss whose great talent came from being able to say so much with so few perfectly chosen words.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
On the way to the parking lot, Liam stopped to look at the Ice Age sequel poster on the exterior wall. It was mounted right next to the Dark Knight poster. I shuddered a little. As we walked all the way to the end of the sidewalk, the very last poster on the building was for a movie I know nothing about. It’s title was, “Hope Springs.” I thought that was a good ending.