So Bennigton died a few days back. And a friend of my mum, took her life last night after her twelve year old daughter died of cancer recently. I couldn’t call her selfish for that – for not thinking about the husband she was leaving behind (although that’s what everyone else kept saying.) The reason why I couldn’t blame her was because I couldn’t ever claim to imagine the kind of sorrow that she must have gone through. I’ve been a kid for most of my life but I’m not alien to things like depression or loss. Not anymore. I’ve grown up over the years from a silly girl lost in crayons and tent houses to a teen growing up into the big words in life: “sorrow”, “failure”, “dejection”, “frustration” and slowly a little more, towards “death”. I’ve seen both my parents go through phases of depression and I’ve been mean to my father when I couldn’t understand why he was being so rude to me sometimes. My mother called that a High BP. I’ve cried when I secretly sensed my mum was sad about something. I cried when I knew sometimes I had unknowingly hurt her myself. But, I digress.
What I mean is, I grew up to the life I had to face. Stepped into the big shoes. Learned to look in the face of things and what to do when dejection takes your loved ones; and even if I wouldn’t quite make it on some days, in those big shoes I had to put on, I’d still keep walking.
So here I was, ten years later, all grown up (well, for the most part!) when I watched this movie about a little boy and girl, who were just like I was, ten years back. The boy had got a hand for art and the girl had an imagination bigger than all her years. They fancy their way out of their troubles – conjuring up a world of fantasy in the woods behind their backyard, (that she named Terabithia); Imagining firefly warriors and battling giant trolls and saying to each other:
“if we could beat that, we could beat that prick in school who keeps bullying!”
They both had a vivid imagination and even though he couldn’t “draw up keys” like his father reprimanded him once when he lost their greenhouse keys, Josh (the boy) knew that it meant something. And Leslie (the girl), with her short wispy hair and runaway eyes, was the girl full of her own metaphors; who built her own fairytales from scrap: a tree house for an ancient castle ruin, a backyard-wood for a magical kingdom of elves and trolls and treetop fairies. She was also the fastest in school, by the way and even beat the guys at a race. She wore blue pants and not pink dresses. And she was also good at “building stuff…”for a girl.”(she made the treehouse renovations, for example) And to that, she’d reply, “Same way I’m fast… ‘for a girl‘ ?” And she’d certainly tease Josh (psst, the art guy) about that, saying, “Well, you’re pretty good at art…for a boy” and smile suggestively, until he’d be like “okay, okay, I get it. Truce!”
I didn’t set out to fall in love with this film. I just needed something to clear my head. So when Leslie died, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I sat up on my bed and started crying like I went back ten years in time, when this was allowed, (as a kid, to cry). I kept telling myself to (wo)man up! That it was silly to cry over a Disney movie. . .
But when the Packers and Movers van took away Leslie’s home and Josh chased the trucks carrying the last of Leslie, when he asked her father if he could use the lumber they left behind – I knew right then, he was going to build her a bridge. Leslie had died when the old swing rope that used to take them across the stream to Terabithia, gave way. She fell into the stream before their treehouse and died. That day Josh wasn’t there to save her. She had gone into the woods alone!
So when Josh builds that bridge over the creek in which Leslie died, he branched together two old trees from either side of its bank and hung a board over it in the shape of a shield, painted on which in golden letters were the words:
“Nothing crushes us”.
Maybe that’s the bridge we need to build sometimes. Even as adults! Because no matter how many years you leave behind, it never stops hurting. When the world feels too much, when you feel like it’s the end,
you always need an escape.
And maybe, it doesn’t have to be death. Or the scars in your wrists. Or the noose hanging over your bed.
Maybe you don’t NEED to think about anyone else.
Maybe you just need to think about yourself, and a better place that you can get to.
The mind is a vast expanse of space and if you let it, maybe imagination can be that escape.
This is for everyone who felt like giving up at least once in life. Last week when I was talking to a friend, we somehow got started on the topic of existentialism and he went on about how hope is the only reason why people are still living.
And I said, “Yeah. Why would I even want to wake up tomorrow otherwise? I’m nothing without the dreams I have.”
And maybe we don’t always realise the power that dreams and a lil bit of imagination can have; the roles they have to play. As Josh takes his little sister May Belle over the bridge he built after Leslie’s death, he tells her about his place of escape. Their Own Personal Utopia: his and Leslies‘.
“It’s an ancient forest May Belle, full of magical creatures and friendly giants and anything you can imagine. But you gotta look really hard and keep your mind wide open.”
Because that’s what Leslie used to say.
May Belle in her little crown of twigs, grips Josh’s hand even tighter as they slowly make their way across the new wooden bridge. She takes one last peek behind and it’s not the wooden creaky bridge that Josh made anymore –
it’s the golden bridge to Terabithia of her dreams with “Nothing Crushes Us” plated in gold, right above it.
“Nothing crushes us”,
We need to remember that, sometimes, you know.
But we keep forgetting!
When we feel like giving up, we need to build that goddamned bridge.