Wednesday, July 1, 2009

UP

There is a movie out right now by Disney/Pixar called "Up". Lucas and I have seen it twice. It is on one hand an entertaining, animal-talking, hilarious, thrill-ride that kids really seem to enjoy. It is on the other hand a very touching story about life, death, grieving, loneliness, relationships, and moving forward. The main character is an old man named Carl Frederickson. The first 10 minutes of the film beautifully captures key points of his life with his childhood friend and fellow adventurer Ellie, who becomes his wife and lifelong partner. Through a moving video collage of their life together we see Carl and Ellie get married, buy and renovate a house, get pregnant and anticipate the birth of their child, suffer a devastating miscarriage, picnic on a grassy hill, dream of going to South America to visit Paradise Falls, and repeatedly set aside their dream in order to deal with life's misfortunes. Finally, Ellie gets sick and dies, leaving Carl without his soulmate and with a dream unfulfilled. With his wife gone, Carl decides to attempt to keep his promise to Ellie by flying the home that they made together to South America. To make a long story short, Carl eventually succeeds in getting the house to Paradise Falls. Now backtrack a bit. When she was a child, Ellie started an adventure scrapbook about her plans to go someday to Paradise Falls. A few pages into the scrapbook she leaves a section blank for photos/memories of what she will do when she gets there. As far as Carl knew, the scrapbook was never completed and the pages in that part of it were left blank. Fast forward. So after Carl gets the house to Paradise Falls, he sits on his chair and looks one last time at Ellie's scrapbook. It is then that he notices that Ellie had continued to work on the scrapbook throughout the rest of her life filling it with pictures of their life together. At the end of the scrapbook she had written, "Thanks for the adventure - Now go have a new one." Soonafter, in order to save the little boy who traveled with him, Carl has to choose to throw everything that was in the house out so that the house could fly again. Later, after saving the boy, Carl sees the house float away for the last time.

Though I am a bit ashamed that I have personally connected to the story of this fictional animated character, the truth is that there are aspects of his journey that so clearly mirror my own. It has been 18 months since Midi and Nathan died. Lucas and I continue to live in the home that Midi and I started making together six years ago. And I find myself today in a place where I am ready to move forward, physically and emotionally. A big part of this will be packing up and moving out of this house on Abila St. that Midi and I made our home and moving into a new place and making a new home with Lucas. I wasn't ready to do this last year. But I am now. In December, through much thought, prayer, and counsel, I decided to take a leave-of-absence from my teaching position for the '09-'10 school year. So I will have over 12 months to work through this next part of my journey.

Last year I feared any aspect of moving forward. I feared that moving forward would necessarily be tied to letting go, which I desperately did not want to do in any form. I also feared that I would feel guilty if I moved forward and started to experience life as this improved person that God is making me. I think that is why I was completely unable to touch any of Midi's belongings last summer. I just wasn't ready. But what I have realized since then is that there is a certain way that I have to let go of Midi and Nathan if I am to move forward in a healthy way and embrace/seize the rest of my life and the new joys that await me. As I have seen and witnessed that God has so much more for me yet and have experienced joy in new relationships that I have chosen to give myself to, I feel confident that the rest of my life can still be good and purposeful. It is not time in and of itself that has brought me to this place, but it is by seeing over time that despite the pain of loss that I will feel every day of my life, new life and new joy can still come in and coexist with that pain. God has walked with me and graciously given me enough evidence this past year-and-a-half to be confident and eager to embrace what is to come.

Though I do not like to project onto Midi what I think she would say if she could communicate to me today, I think based on what I know of her and what I know of myself if things were the other way around that her sentiments would be similar to that of Ellie: "Thanks for the adventure - Now go have a new one." And as I sit here at the beginning of my time off, I am ready to let go and move forward and embrace the new adventures that God has in store for me and Lucas.


*Obviously, the biggest symbol of moving my life forward is moving to a new home and all that doing so entails. There are other smaller symbols that signify my moving forward, namely shaving my head, which I did on Father's Day. I have actually wanted to cut all my hair off and go with the 1/4" look for quite some time. But I submitted to Midi who absolutely did not want me to. I figured that the only person whose opinion I cared about in regards to how I looked was Midi. So shaving my head is actually pretty meaningful to me in that it symbolizes that I understand that Midi is no longer here and therefore, in some strange way, releases me from my promise not to cut my hair off.

11 comments:

mamatree said...

Hi Mark,
It's Teresa Ko. I want to thank you for posting. I want you to know that you and your blog helped Edison and I through a really tough time. Your words lifted us up and helped us to put our hope in God. I really can't thank you enough for sharing this journey with us.

Love,
Teresa & Edison

Andy and Jenny Dickson said...

Mark,

I took the kids to see UP yesterday and sat next to Carol Sato. I cried through most of the movie as I contemplated what Carol has gone through these past few years, and as I thought about you and your reflections of the movie.

While I greatly regret the fact that I will not be able to get to know Midi and Nathan, I feel so blessed to have the honor of getting to know you and Lucas. I feel blessed to be here to support you as you take all of the love and knowledge of Midi and Nathan and pour it into your next adventure.

In the few times I spent with Midi, I could see clearly what a great sense of humor she had. I think she is laughing from heaven about your hair (or lack of hair). I think she would also be so tremendously proud of your courage to move on. I know I am.

Love,

your sister in Christ,
Jenny Dickson

Joyce said...

Mark, thank you for sharing about how God has been at work in your life this past year. I think about and pray for you and Lucas often, and I look forward to seeing you sometime after we move back to LA this fall.

Mark said...

Mark,
It's Mark Larson. You have been on my heart and in my prayers in a fresh way over the last three weeks.
It was a great surprise to me to find your two latest entries and to hear of the things that the Lord is doing in your heart and in your life.

Debbie said...

Hi Mark,
We saw UP the weekend it came out. I thought of you and Midi and the adventures that you shared with Lucas and Nathan. It made me think of life in general and how we must cherish our past and present, but must continue to move forward to future adventures.
I'm glad to have seen the heaviest of burdens lift off your shoulders slowly, since the beginning of the year. I remember last year being a very difficult year for all of us.
I am so glad to see this transition and the acceptance, whether through time or fate,positively enveloping you. Also, with dear Lucas being the happy, active, boy he is, I know that he has helped you reach this level as well.
With the shaving of your hair, I know that Midi and Nathan are laughing, watching and remembering the time Midi actually shaved your head when you were 'Mark of long hair'. I will always remember Midi quoting that and laughing when she told the story of you meeting her parents.
Yes...life is an adventure...we look forward to future adventures together! We will still hold close to our hearts,those that have been dear to us. Have a great year off.

Love,
Aunt Debbie

MicheleOgden said...

Hi Mark,

I was a childhood friend of Millie's. I just learned about her passing and I was very touched reading your blog. I've always remembered her, with her beautiful smile and kind spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Lucas as you begin this new adventure together.

Take care,
Michele (Martinez) Ogden
micheleogden@hotmail.com

Catherine said...

I am still praying for you and am so thrilled to have these new messages that suggest to me, a stranger in the flesh (by way of Erika Haub), how better to pray. I love the commentary about the freeing loss of the hair.

Blessings to you and Lucas, always.

Lovelyn said...

I am deeply touched by the healing God has given you, and by the sense of freedom you have to move forward. Thank you for sharing your reflections.

Sunmy Brown said...

Hi Mark,

I only learned of Millie's passing last night via a memorial page on FB. I met Millie in Korea, the Summer of '95, while we were both participating in Korean language programs. That summer was a life-changing summer for me. It was the summer where I recommitted my life to Christ and it was through a small group Bible study that Millie led through IVCF that brought me back to the Lord.

As I stayed up late reading your blog entries last night, I was moved to tears. Millie's life was such a testimony of striving for the eternal prize and seeking the Kingdom. I'll always be eternally grateful for the impact she has had on my life, even if it was for just a short time in Korea.

The last time we saw each other was 10 years ago, when I moved out to Pasadena, CA. Looking back on that day puts a smile on my face.

You and Lucas will be in my thoughts and prayers as you both embark on this new journey in your lives.

In God's Grace,
Sunmy Brown

Corrie said...

Mark,

I am a new reader to your blog. It is truly a moving tribute to your love for Midi and Nathan. I was touched reading your recent post on seeing 'Up' and how it impacted you. I have been working with Miri Rossitto, the owner of ValleyofLife.com to create her new ebook, "A Guide to Children and Grief." The book is meant to for adults to help them understand and help children who have lost a loved one.

As a widower and a father, we would be honored to know what you thought of the book. If you or your friends are interested, you can download a copy for free at:
http://www.valleyoflife.com/?ebook/
Passcode: BLOG28

Sincere Regards,
Corrie
Valley of Life

Mark and Lucas Mikasa said...

Teresa - great to hear from you. Looking forward to hang out soon.
Dicksons - love doing life with you guys.
Joyce - welcome back to LA!
Mark - how are you Syd and your girls doing? Gimme a call or email sometime.
Auntie Debbie - "Mark of long hair" HAHA!
Michelle and Sunmy - I'm glad you knew Midi. Wasn't she something?
Catherine and Lovelyn - thank you for your continued prayers.
Corrie - I just downloaded the book. Thank you.