"He will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do ..."
I had observed them throughout the movie, the 50-something couple sitting in front of us at the theater. My four younger children and I went to see "Beauty and the Beast" late yesterday afternoon, and the auditorium was packed - even a week after the movie had been released. There were many younger couples around, I had noticed, and of course a lot of children. The age and childlessness of the couple in front of me had made them stand out.
It was near the end of the movie. Of course, I knew the plot. I had watched the video of the original animated version many times in the 90's with my four older children. But then there came a surprise. A new song sung by the Beast from the top of one of the towers of his castle as Belle rides away, he - out of love for her - having made the ultimate sacrifice of giving her her freedom.
As the import of the haunting song became clear, the man sitting in front of me leaned his head on the shoulder of his wife. I was struck by this tender moment, so simple yet so profound. Clearly, he had been touched by what was being conveyed by the scene on the screen, and I found it atypical, almost unusual, that it was the man who had leaned his head on the breast of his wife, rather than the other way around.
It was then that occurred within me one of those profound cathartic moments that art has the power to bring about in us humans. I was reminded of how so many times throughout the course of my first marriage I had reached out to seek solace, hope and tenderness - and intimacy - in the love I felt for my ex-wife. I don't want to say that I did not find it. But the catharsis yesterday in that theater came as I realized that I hadn't truly found what I was searching, longing, for until I met Mark; and following that realization came the flood of intense, soul-filling gratitude for what I had found with him, what I had experienced with him. Love. True love. It was a profoundly poignant moment for me, particularly after having experienced what I wrote about in my last post.
And it was with these thoughts of Mark and gratitude in my mind and heart that I listened to the chorus and remaining verses of the exquisitely beautiful ballad of the Beast (music video below). As I did so, another realization dawned on me: that, substituting the words "he" for "she" and "him" for "her," much of what the transformed Beast was expressing, I have thought and felt following Mark's departure. But, the ultimate beauty of the moment for me was revealed not as sadness, not as anger, not in wistfulness, not in tragedy, but as profound, healing gratitude.