Lydia and I watched Miracles from Heaven the other night. If you haven’t seen this movie DON’T WATCH IT. Just don’t. Don’t do it. You just can’t even.
We own it now on Amazon and I don’t know that it will ever be played again, unless one of us is feeling especially sad already and looking for a trigger to bawl and bury our faces in pillows.
The story goes like this: little girl gets sick, very sick, so sick she could die. There’s no cure for the thing she has. Mom’s faith in God is rocked. Daughter’s faith in God sustains. More awful happens. And then she’s healed, mysteriously and miraculously (hence the name of the movie). I won’t go full spoiler here in the event you fail to take my advice and actually go watch this movie.
Worst of all, it’s based on real events.
Lydia and I melted into the couch together, rubbing each other’s arms and sobbing. Girls’ night has become something of an intermittent tradition with us; on weeks we’ve missed out on each other, we curl together on the couch for a movie. I usually use these occasions to expose Lydia to all of my favorites, from Grease to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, stories we can quote and reference later, the way my mom and I have done, movie lines like touchstones, “I peel the potatoes…”
There are some that are lately off limits. Step Mom. Steel Magnolias. The Family Stone. Wild. They are all in too close proximity to my own anxieties, too real to life.
Recently, Lydia read a book about a daughter whose Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “What’s a mastectomy?” she asked. Later, she said she couldn’t finish it. She doesn’t say it much but she is afraid, too, afraid to lose her Grandma Rose. Movies like Miracles from Heaven are a reminder of our current realities, a reflection of our deepest fears.
Lately we are in the calm space of life continuing with some normalcy: the treatment is doing what it’s supposed to, slowing growth, and Mom is managing side effects. We all mostly live as if there is no end date, the way we all usually operate.
This isn’t my mom’s reality, of course; she is the one who must take drugs daily, measure blood pressure, and monitor her symptoms. Her reality is omnipresent. For me, there is pressure at the seams, an urgency to make the most of every moment, to make moments happen, and to preserve the moments to memory. I want to both forget and remember – forget that she has this disease so we can love and live fully right now, and remember, so I don’t become lazy and leave opportunities aside to regret later. I need to remember, so I see the glint of joy in the midst of grief and the shimmer of grief in the midst of joy, that strong ache of bittersweet that composes love.
If you’ve heard of Miracles from Heaven, you already know from the previews that the little girl is healed. But that is not the only miracle of their story.
The mother in Miracles from Heaven quotes Einstein near the end of the movie, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Oh, I hope for a miracle. I hope and hope and hope again that my mom is healed, that she lives as long as the grandma in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. But together we have to live in our current condition.
And our current condition is also miraculous. Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that my mom’s cancer was discovered before it was too late. It is a miracle that we live in such a time as this, when technology can extend our time beyond what we might have had otherwise, deliver time packaged as gifts, and even when that time runs out that we had time at all. It is a miracle that we live at all, a miracle to feel and love and grieve, to bond with another human and weep when that bond is threatened, or lost, or broken.
If you need this reminder of the prevalence of miracles in our world and the presence of God in the midst of both the calm and the storm, then okay, go ahead and watch this terribly beautiful movie. But don’t you dare subject me to it again, not any time soon, anyway. Instead you’ll find me in between my daughter and my mother with a bowl of popcorn, quoting “TULA, why you want to LEAVE MEEEEE?” laughing and wiping tears away.