Friday, March 09, 2007

Because sometimes you just need a good cry

A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the couch flipping through the TV channels. As usual, nothing was on worth watching.

But, then, I saw it, a movie I used to love, that was until Riley got diabetes. I own the movie, but have not been able to bring myself to watch it over the past 17 months. It just hits too close to home.

But, I turned it there anyway. I didn’t really plan on watching it. I was almost compelled to turn it there.

I missed the beginning. When I turned it on, Shelby was sitting in the kitchen and telling her mom that she was pregnant. Her mom was none too pleased with this information.

At this point, I started telling myself, “OK, turn it NOW. You've seen it a hundred times. You know what happens. You really don’t need to watch it. Turn it.”

About that time, Shelby followed her mom into the other room and said:

“Mama, plenty of diabetics have babies and they do just fine.”

“But not you Shelby, you’re special.”

And that, my friends, is when I lost it. I started to cry. And, I pretty much cried through the whole rest of the movie.

I would get OK and then something would happen and I’d start up again.

Occasionally, Michael would walk through the living room and say, “You shouldn’t be watching this.” I would just peer at him from beneath the Kleenex I was holding up to my eyes.

I cried softly most of the time. But, when Jackson found Shelby lying in the floor, I started to sob.

And, when she died, I sobbed some more.

And, when her mom lost it at the funeral, I sobbed even harder.

I sat on my couch and cried all I wanted. I sat there and grieved for my son like I haven’t done in a long, long time.

It was just something that I needed to do.

After the movie was over, I got up, dried my tears, checked Riley’s sugar, read him a bedtime story, and tucked him into bed.

All the while, my now favorite quote from the movie was running through my head. Something that Shelby says to her mom when she tells her she's pregnant:

“ I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

And, I felt blessed because I think it’s the other way around for me. I’ve had a lifetime of wonderful and maybe thirty minutes of nothing special.

That's what I wish for Riley too. And now, I'm at the point where I can see it happening. A year ago, I couldn't say that. But, now, I'm sure that's what's in store for my boy: a lifetime of wonderful.


Jamie said...

I just can't watch that movie, I can't, can't, can't lol. It sounds like it was somewhat therapeutic for you though and sometimes we do need to get it out, then get on with life. It does make you appreciate what you've got though - and that's a good thing :)

Shannon said...

Oh I cried at the funeral scene sooo hard when Sally Field lost it at the cemetary. And this was BEFORE Brendon's diagnosis.

I love Shelby's quote too. Now that Brendon is diagnosed, the movie holds a special place in my heart.

Lyrehca said...

Keep in mind that the film takes place in, I believe, the 1950s. Did you see anyone checking their blood sugar with a meter, or wearing a pump? No, because that technology didn't exist.

Today's technology, and whatever is down the road (CGMS, closed-loop pumps, etc.) makes it less likely that what happened to Shelby in the movie will happen today. Of course, there are people who don't utilize the technology effectively, but trust me, thousands of women, including myself, are living with type 1 and are having healthy pregnancies and (knock wood, in a few weeks) healthy babies. Don't let Steel Magnolias get you down.

George said...

There is something comforting about a good cry like that. Of course I am now crying after reading this but it comforting to me reading about how much you love your son.

I LOVE that movie.

Rachel said...

Before I met Greg, I could watch that movie over and over. But because I saw a grade school classmate have not one, but two seizures due to hypoglycemia, I couldn't watch that opening part at all. Nope, not at all, after the first couple times.

Now, I don't think I could watch it at all.

Nicole P said...

Hi Penny - It's strange how grief works sometimes - introducing itself to us in doses like these.

L - Steel M's is set in the 1980s... The early 80s, but Shelby, I'd guess is meant to be in her early 30s - so grew up with more limited technology than we have now.

Personally, I love the movie because of the stunning illustration it gives of a mother's love. I see it as a film about women - and the relationships we form - with our mothers and our children and our friends and the world in general. Maybe that's why it's not really hard for me to watch it. The diabetes piece seems almost incidental to me.

julia said...

I can't watch that movie any more. I cry just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

I love that movie and can still watch it, but not with anyone else. I can't handle their pity, no matter how much I try to explain the difference in outlook now.
I don't think my mom watches it anymore though... :)

Chrissie in Belgium said...

I LOVE that movie. OK my kids were born in the 70s, but even in the 70s being a diabetic and pregnant was scary. That film has so many good lines and actors and....

Penny said...

Jamie, Rachel, and Julia: I can totally understand why you can't watch that movie. I didn't think I could either. But, I'm glad I did now. It was good for me. (Jamie and Julia: It's got to be even harder for you because you have girls with D.)


I watched that movie dozens of times before Riley was diagnosed and I ALWAYS cried at the funeral scene. It's just something any mother can identify with, D or no D.


I know that technology is better now and I'm very grateful for that, but that doesn't change the fact that my son has a chronic disease. Not just that, but a chronic disease that kills people every day, even with advanced technology. It's just different for mom's and dad's that live this disease through thier children. I wish I could take it away from Riley and keep it as my own.

In a few more weeks (knock on wood) you'll better understand what I'm talking about. I can't wait to hear about your new baby's entry into the world.


I didn't mean to make you cry. I hope it was as therapeutic for you as it was for me.


Before Riley was diagnosed the diabetes part was incidental to me too. But, now, it's a big part of the movie to me. I identified so much more with the mom (Sally Fields). It's like I knew how she felt and why she was so scared.


I understand why your mom won't watch.


There are sooooooo many great lines in that movie. Most of them where spoken by Ouiser. I just love her. Every small southern town has a Ouiser.

art-sweet said...

I have never watched that movie all the way through. I just can't.