Just a thought… Love is a song that never ends. [Larry Morey, lyricist, Bambi]
First of all, happy summer! I hope that this season brings to you all that you’ve awaited during the winter and spring months. Of course, for some parts of the country, this season got an early start; for others, it’s yet to kick into high gear. But my hopes for you are lots of great memory-making. My best memories are in the hazy glazed backdrop of summer.
This is also a day to kick off a huge movie weekend with the return of a film franchise that has been a part of our little family’s life almost as surely as if it was planned to run alongside our history.
When the first Toy Story came out, it was 1995. Our little Lauren was just over four years old and we’re almost certain it was her first theatre excursion. Then, of course, we waited for the DVD to come out and devoured it again. And again. “You are a sad, strange little man,” a line from Buzz Lightyear to Woody when Buzz thought Woody was out to get him, was repeated many times in our household as the years went on – usually to Rob or to our little dog Pepper.
In 1999, Lauren was 8 years old and she, her daddy and I excitedly went to the theatre to see Toy Story 2 together. Woody got a girlfriend and we were introduced to a dastardly miner voiced by Cheers and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer. It was a delight and not the least bit disappointing after the magic of Pixar’s first Toy Story offering.
Then came Toy Story 3: the film to end the franchise (or so we thought) and how perfect it was! We waited 11 years for this story as little Andy Davis grew up and gave his toys away. I wept big wet tears that rolled from my eyes, down the back of my wrist and onto the cushioned armrest, as the story so perfectly echoed in June 2010 what was happening in our lives: Lauren moving out of our Toronto condo to start her education and her grownup life in Ottawa. The parallels were so strong that the film always held a very special place in our hearts.
When Lauren died five years later, another door closed: we were pretty sure that we could never watch Toy Story or any of its franchise again. The desperately sweet memories that we associated with the film and its characters, the joyful moments we’d relive with our daughter that came from the movie, like the tea parties with Daddy modeled after the ones to which Andy’s little sister subjected Buzz Lightyear, were just too close to our broken hearts.
So here’s the thing: I was dead set against going to see this newest version, Toy Story 4. Why would I put myself through that? (In fact, that’s the question Rob asked when he returned to our airplane seats in April to find me with tears rolling down my cheeks as I watched Disney’s Bambi, a film for which Lauren knew all of the songs and that we’d watched endlessly when she was a toddler. It’s why her nickname, like that of the skunk in the film, was Flower.)
But now I’m reading that TS4 is getting 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s earning raves all-around. Do I dare? Do we dare? And why would we – just to sit and cry or to laugh and remember – or do both? Oh dear….
With the exception of that soggy moment in the skies a while back, I haven’t cried in so long that I worry I’ve shut down in some ways. In sharing messages of reclaiming joy, as I have done in the past four months since the release of Mourning Has Broken, have I intentionally tucked away the pain – and do I want to reopen that door?
I promised to give Brooke and Phil our Toy Story DVD set and forgot when I was visiting this month, but will in October. I think Colin’s going to love the adventures of Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, Bo and so many of the Toy Story gang just as much as we did. And, oh yes, like Lauren was the first time she saw the film, Colin is four years old. Seems fitting; after all, these were the stories – the Toy Storys – of our lives.