My mom told me that before she had kids, she thought people who cried at babies being born in movies were the lamest people ever. How on earth could that move you to tears, she thought. It’s just biology. Afterward, she always wept, even if she could be sitting there telling you through misted eyes how silly she used to think it was, and to a certain extent how silly it still was.

I only used to cry when animals died. And even that was rare because I would spend the quieter moments whispering fiercely to my sister some made-up bit she’d missed on-screen, where there was really a lifting chest or a scurrying out of the shot, which meant the animal actually survived somehow, and so there was no reason for either of us to be upset. That was it. I certainly didn’t cry for the loss—or return—of one’s family, such a common trope in even G-rated films. Now that I was gone from mine for so long, and came back to it falling away from me, in illness and in distance, there are some movies I just won’t watch with other people, because in them people lose their families and—worse—get them back, they way they used to know them, the way they were before they left. Like in Gladiator, for example. I used to love this movie for the swordplay and the good men, and I still like it I guess, but I just cry and cry. His hands in the wheat, and everyone returned to him. Everything broken fixed.

It’s silly.


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