The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Comparative Cinemology

There is probably a more correct name for comparative film studies, but since I don't know it, you'll need to make do with my current title.

I saw the new Harry Potter film today. I could write a long post about what Harry Potter means to me and it has very little to do with the books themselves but instead how they appeared at different points in my life. But that sounds a little self-indulgent, so instead I will say that at the core of Harry Potter is a boy who is missing two people he never knew. How can that not appeal to an infertile heart? Both the first time around and now this time trying again, I spend every month mourning not a child I know intimately--can describe and hold and tell you whether they like the crusts on or off their sandwich. I'm mourning someone who wasn't. I'm mourning the fact that I don't know them when I'd like very much to have them in my life. I am wondering how life would be different if they were here. Harry isn't missing his parents in the sense that he has many fond memories tied to these two people--he's missing the potential, the relationship that is supposed to be there. A child is supposed to have parents in the same way that a woman who is a mother at heart is supposed to have children.

In Dispatches From the Edge, Anderson Cooper writes about the loss of his brother, "Many times that year, I wished I had a scar, a missing limb, something children could have pointed at, at which adults could tell them not to stare. At least then they would have known. I wouldn't have been expected to smile and mingle, meet and greet. Everyone could have seen that, like a broken locket, I had only half a heart."

A broken locket.

That's not really the connection between those two thoughts--the locket--but I loved those four sentences because they summed up so well the silent battle--the silent wars. The ones we have that no one knows about. The personal losses. Harry's losses are widely-known in the wizarding world. I think as a society, we have a better acceptance and understanding of that kind of loss: a child is supposed to have parents and when those parents are missing, the mourning is obvious and clear-cut. As a society, we don't really know what to do with other forms of loss--the kind that can be hidden entirely if we choose. Unless told, people don't know who are the childless mothers. And even once they're told, they don't always understand. They can't visualize the missing person in the same way an almost-mother or almost-father can visualize their not-yet child.

For the IIFF, I'm finishing the second part of the two films we started last month. The first one explains to children about the multitude of ways people become parents. The second explores the emotions of infertility.

You will have to wait until Friday when the film festival shows to learn the whole analogy, but it is about missing those who aren't here: the not-yet children who either weren't conceived at all during a failed cycle, or made it to embryo but didn't implant during an IVF attempt, or those who became small flowers, blooming and growing only to be lost before they could stand strong in the sun. I have cried a lot this week drawing the pictures for it and listening to the song play.

Here are some pictures and words until the film shows on Friday--a sneak preview or a still-trailer. If you haven't made a film for this festival, there is still time. I know it sounds like there isn't time since the festival is four days away, and perhaps there isn't time to make the movie you want, but there is time to make a movie that can explain to people an aspect of infertility or loss. The theme for this festival is seasons, hence the garden and flower imagery. You can peruse past entries for ideas and use computer programs to compile your own movie.

I scatter seeds / you can't see just what I sow / but the gardener knows

Broken hearts from missing flowers / that were never found / up above the ground

I still love you / when you don't appear / and remain only a dream


Inconceivable said...

you are going to make me cry this morning - blessings - good work, can't wait to see it - Farah

Heather said...

I'm all misty-eyed at work right now too. Very moving post. I have a broken locket too.

megan said...

looking forward to the full film, Mel.

Bea said...

I'm going to be using Harry Potter to explain infertility to people whenever necessary from now on. I meant that to sound much more sincere than it probably does. I mean, your analogy on orphans/childless couples is very sound.

And I can't wait to see your film - although it sounds just heartbreaking.


Lea Bee said...

that is beautiful

Grad3 said...

Very true, I thought the same when I was reading the book this weekend. By the way, totally wrote that email before I checked over here (although I was talking about the book :)

curlygin78 said...

Thank you for this post... here, going on 8 months ago...

My friend Harry Potter was a big part of my loss this past summer. On the way home from the movie theater to see OOTP, I bought the pregnancy tests that would later tell me we were expecting the baby we tried a whole year for. One week later, I had the most heart-wrenching novel to keep me company while I stayed on the couch and suffered through a very early miscarriage. I never saw the connection between the two types of loss. Loss of potential is still powerful.

Thank you again.