ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter Fourteen: Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve, Ernie often took us to a movie. He started this tradition when Joshua was little.
It’s another Chrismtas Eve, so this afternoon I treat Joshua and me to Judd Apatow’s This is 40.
Fifteen minutes into the film, I go up to Joshua — he’s sitting much closer to the screen than I am — and say: “Can you bear this any longer?”
“It’s bad,” he says. Still, he’s willing to sit through it.
I go back to my seat but soon get up again. “I have to leave, Joshua. I’ll walk home.”
It’s only a ten-minute walk — I do this walk all the time — but Joshua gets up from his seat and leaves with me. “I didn’t like the husband or the wife. I didn’t even like the kids,” he says in the car. “I didn’t like the story.”
“Everything was too much,” I say. “Even the house was too stuffed. Do these people love each other? If they do, it’s not a love I recognize.”
Perhaps loving families don’t make good movie material. Where’s the conflict? But loving families make life livable, worthwhile — maybe the only thing that does, I think now.
The other night I met with Jeanette, my friend from the Grief Connection. I told her what I’d just read in one of my co-dependency books: that two people don’t really love each other in a healthy way unless they can live without each other.
“I understand that, but I don’t entirely agree,” she said. “It’s the risk I took with Jim, to give myself over so fully to him, and he to me, that we felt like one person. It’s the risk I would take again because it felt so good to be that close to him. It means that I miss him more now that he’s gone and I suffer more, but our life together was worth the suffering I endure now. I still talk to him. I say good-night to him. We have a long-distance relationship.”
Were Jim and Jeanette co-dependent? Or were they inter-dependent — together for a common good while also maintaining their individual independence?
Jeanette had a life separate from Jim’s life and is continuing it: going on Buddhist retreats, studying to be a Buddhist sensei. She has a life without Jim. She just misses him.
Besides, it’s not for me to say.