Chris and I got home from a family visit Tuesday night to a blinking answering machine. My nephew, Shane, was killed in an accident. He was a talented artist, a bicyclist, a drummer and the only person I ever knew who could pull off suspenders. He was 27. In the last few years, he’d been sending me little pieces of art out of the blue. In April, he sent me a small owl necklace made of metal that has moving wings. I’m not sure how he knew that I love owls. Perhaps it was a lucky guess.
I’m usually into comedy, but days like this draw me to sad movies. Here are some of my favorites:
Ordinary People, 1980 – There’s something about uptight white people that can’t express emotions that really gets me. Plus, there have never been two people on film that reminded me so much of my parents. If Mary Tyler Moore had whipped a frying pan at Donald Sutherland at some point in the movie, I would have sworn that Robert Redford had been spying in our windows.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004 – Losing someone is hard enough. Having them remove you from their memory would be horrific.
World According to Garp, 1982 – I read a lot of John Irving in high-school, and I love the book more. However, this movie has a lot of moments that kill me. Walt, for instance. Pooh, for another. Life can be senseless.
Breaking the Waves, 1996 – Even the shots where it’s only scenery are depressing.
Once, 2006 – My first mistake was watching this during a bout of insomnia at 2 am one night. He just belts out “Say it to me now” and it hit me. Then again, when I haven’t slept in a while I could listen to “If I had a hammer” and get misty.
My Life Without Me, 2003 – Sweet-faced Sarah Polley is dying quietly of cancer. Enough said.
I’m sure there are a million more out there to watch, but I’m in the middle of Blue Valentine right now and it’s pretty much killing me.
Chris here: Shane was a smart, fun, extremely talented and creative kid, and he will be terribly missed. If there is a single, small comfort in this tragedy, it’s that Shane was also an organ donor, and though we would give anything to have him back, we also know his organs will be used to save and improve the lives of others in need. If you are not a registered organ donor, please, please become one.