Spoiler Alert: If you read this one, I will have ruined the movie Enola Holmes for you. Don”t say I didn’t warn you.
Last night I was a couch potato. I got home from work, made some dinner, and then Other Half wanted to watch a movie. He’s pretty good about picking stuff he thinks I’ll like to watch. I always say, “Watch whatever, I’m just going to sit here and read.” And then he makes it his own personal challenge to choose a movie that I will watch from the corner of my eye for the first 20 minutes until I am forced to put down my Kindle and actually watch it with him. I don’t know why it matters if I’m reading when I sit 3 feet away from him on the couch vs. watching the same show with him, but for whatever reason it matters. Mamaw says it was the same for her with Papaw their whole married life.
So, this time, he picked “Enola Holmes” on Netflix. I tried to ignore it, but I was pulled into the plot and the accents and the Henry Cavill of it all. I didn’t mind that my reading was interrupted. Everything was going great. The movie was literally down to the last 5 minutes, and then I lost my junk.
The movie, one of the most popular new movies on Netflix right now, is about the sister of Sherlock Holmes. It follows her as she searches for her missing mother while meeting new people along the way, and solving a mystery while simultaneously bringing the tumultuous issue of women’s suffrage to light. And, it was family appropriate. (Not that our kids watched it. One we couldn’t pry away from the video games, and the other officially believes that she’s a teenager and must live 90% of her life in her bedroom).
I’m pretty cautious about which movies I watch lately. It doesn’t take much to make me emotional. I’ve never really been that type of person before, but since my mom died, if something reminds me of her I internalize it and then I become a sobbing mess. Something as simple as seeing a mom and daughter together at the nail salon or trying to eat at a restaurant we enjoyed together can really push me over the edge.
I figured since the mom was not dying, she was only missing, that I’d be OK. But then the whole concept of a daughter searching everywhere for her mom wouldn’t let up. She’s trying to find messages her mom might have left her in gifts. She’s seeking out messages from her mom in the newspaper. She’s struggling with feelings of abandonment and anger and trying to find her own way in the world much sooner than she expected.
The dialogue really hit home a few times for me too. In one scene, Enola visits her mother’s close friend Edith in London, and Edith can’t or won’t tell her where to find her mother, but says that if she chooses to stay in London she shouldn’t do it because she’s looking for someone else, she should do it because she’s looking for herself.
And watching Enola try to do all these things for herself that she would normally share with her mother, and finding that her mother prepared her for everything she needed to do, that got to me a little bit too.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was in the last 5 minutes. Enola is finally reunited with her mother (Eudoria) and Eudoria says, “I thought I was going to be the one that was going to change the world. What a woman you’ve become.” And then this is followed by, “I am sorry. I wanted to tell you where I was going, but it wasn’t safe. I didn’t leave you because I didn’t love you. I left for you because I couldn’t bear to have this world be your future. So I had to fight. You have to make some noise if you want to be heard.”
I know it sounds crazy. My mother didn’t choose to leave me. She didn’t want to leave any of us. But sometimes I feel like she did. Sometimes I feel like she deserted me. And sometimes I dream that I’m doing everything I can to stop what I know is coming. In the dreams I am convinced that there must be some way for me to rewrite her ending. But the dream ends with me hugging her and crying and telling her how sorry I am that I couldn’t figure out how to change it. Watching this scene with Enola and her mother was like hearing my own mother tell me how sorry she was that she had to leave. My poor therapist. She really deserves a raise.
Other Half had stepped outside to let Scooby Doo chase rabbits and whatever else he has to do before bed, and by the time he walked back in the door, I had both hands covering my face, sobbing, eyes burning, unable to hold anything in. He immediately turned off the TV and got me settled in bed, knowing that there was no hope left for the evening. Once the dam breaks there’s no holding back the river.
The funny thing is, I’ve been doing relatively fine. I mean, I miss her every day. But some days instead of feeling like there’s big hole in my chest, I feel more like I’m living in an acceptable but not quite as good as before alternate reality. And one Netflix original film sends me plummeting back to where I was before.
I’ve been reading a collection of letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke on grief and loss, and one of my favorite passages so far says,“And while I am completely engulfed in why own sadness, I am happy to sense that you exist, beautiful one. I am happy to have flung myself without fear into your beauty just as a bird flings itself into space. I am happy, dear, to have walked with steady faith on the waters of our uncertainty all the way to that island which is your heart and where pain blossoms. Finally: happy.”
I’m not there yet. Right now I’m still in the Enola Holmes phase, searching for my mother everywhere, in everything, as I find out exactly what I’m capable of and how well she prepared me for the things I would face in my life. But maybe one day I’ll see things in a different light. Finally: happy.