The day a movie broke my heart

Written by PDA TAS Associate Director, Tammy Milne


***SPOILER ALERT – “Guardians of the Galaxy 3”***

Today I went to a movie and I cried almost all the way through. This wasn’t some mushy romcom or chick flick. This was an action sci-fi film. It was “Guardians of The Galaxy 3”.

Why did I cry so much? I am a woman with a disability and the character Rocket brought out in me some deep-seated emotions around disability that just could not be held in. They burst forward and I was a blubbering mess for most of the film.

Rocket, like me, received many painful operations throughout his young life. These enhancements for both of us came at the cost of pain – real bone grating, breaking, aching pain. Seeing Rocket suffer triggered that empathy dam that burst its banks, allowing tears to roll forth in torrents. I know your pain Rocket!

The friends Rocket made in his cage caused all kinds of grief for me as well. This little creature was loved by his group of also tortured friends, with their shared pain and suffering creating a bond where together they endured and made the best of their sorry lives. When they were killed, that was it!  I totally lost it. Rocket’s feelings of abandonment, pain and anger were so real and I felt that they were happening to me. Another creature misplaced in the universe. 

As I write this, it’s 12 days ahead of the anniversary of Phil’s Death (my husband and partner of 33 years) and maybe this was the trigger that I needed to grieve again. It seems that loss is never finally over. When Rocket almost died, was reunited in the great hereafter and was told “we missed you, you can stay, but not yet as your time has not come”, again my tears rolled liked rushing snotty rivers down my face, with big ugly sobs to go with it.

Is death just the beginning? Will we be reunited with the ones we love? I hope so! And you know what?  In the hereafter the movie characters still had their callipers and wheels, because they are part of what we/they are. We don’t have to change and be cured to accepted in the great beyond! We are what we are!  LOVED!

I was not alone in my grief at this movie. My daughter beside me was just as stricken. We held hands and sobbed our way through the movie. Others probably thought we were an odd pair – the young woman and the older woman on a scooter crying uncontrollably at what is essential a children’s movie. We shared our grief together, separately, individual, but together in our journey of grief.

When the Guardian rescued the inhabitants of the factory of misery, and all the higher order creatures, the sobbing began again in earnest because creatures like Rocket were not included. Rocket would not leave them and the baby rockets were scooped up and hauled on his back to be carried through the fire and destruction and saved. Rocket risked his life to save them because in his eyes they were worth saving. They were his family. They were like him and worth life. 

They had value. Wow, did that bring up deep seeded feelings of unworthiness that have personally followed me through life because of my disability. But I too am worthy and I applauded Rocket for his bravery in saving them. Who decides who is of value? Who decides who is worthy? Who decides who lives or dies? We judge a society on how it treats its most vulnerable. 

I see myself in Rocket. and what I saw made me cry uncontrollably and think I would never leave this grief behind. It is now 5 hours later and I just had to write about this, to share how for me life imitates art. For me grief is still with me and like Rocket I will fight on. I will put my tears away, bolster my courage and, just like Rocket, live because I am worthy!

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