Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sometimes when you lose, you win

Many years ago, I took a literature class that assigned Dante's Divine Comedy.  This epic poem describes Dante's journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, representing a soul's journey to find "God."  As a final assignment, we were asked to analyze and compare one part of the Divine Comedy with a modern and/or popular form of art.  "What Dreams May Come" had just opened and, being a rather smug college student, I decided to write my paper comparing the Inferno to this movie.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this film, it's based on the book by Richard Matheson and is billed as a supernatural drama.  The story focuses on the journey of two soulmates, Chris and Annie, following tragedy and sorrow, leading to hopeful new beginnings. The story starts with the pair meeting in Italy while on vacation, followed by a scene of their wedding.  We then get a flash of their idyllic life together with their two children.  This all ends, following a fatal car crash.  The wife, Annie, blames herself for the accident, believing that if she had been driving that day, their children would still be alive, lending her to a complete mental and emotional break-down.  The movie jumps between scenes in the past and present, where the couple has pulled through this tragedy.  It isn't long after, though, that Chris is killed and begins his journey through the afterlife and, ultimately, back to Annie.

There's one scene of that movie that I've been playing over and over in my head as I've been reflecting on our journey.  And I'm been thinking about it all the more as I see many posts from fellow bloggers talking about the despair they feel with having to be on this road.  How alienated they feel from those around them, especially their partners.  It wasn't that long ago that Grey and I were constantly fighting over infertility: him feeling that I was overreacting all the time; me feeling alone and pushing him away while hurting so badly, day in and day out.  In the movie, because of her despair of losing Chris and her children Annie commits suicide. Because suicide is a sin against nature, she is sent to Hell.  Angered over this, Chris journeys to Hell to rescue her, traveling through the different circles.  When Chris finds Annie, he finds her in a state of being unable to remember anything.  In his attempt to help her remember, he recalls a conversation that originally saved their marriage.

During this discussion, when Annie was originally institutionalized following the loss of their children, he reveals that he is part of the problem.  Because he couldn't join her in her grief.  It is only after that realization that they are able to move forward.  And it is because of that realization again in Hell, and his decision to stay with her in damnation, that ultimately saves them both.  

The last couple of days have been hard for Grey.  Infertility has taken such a toll on both of us, but it has only been within the last few months that we've both been on the same page.  Watching him as he grieves and deals with feelings of despair has been so difficult.  It hurts me so much to see him hurt like this. Partly because I can't do anything to alleviate the pain. Partly because I understand it so well. Yet, reflecting back on that scene, I also realize that his joining me in my grief is actually a good thing, as we are now in a place where we can actually comfort one another.  Just as Chris says to Annie, sometime when you lose, you win.

Today is a better day for both of us.  We've been feeling more hopeful following the news from yesterday morning.  But doubt still creeps in, along with daily reminders of the fact we have to struggle.  The hardest part of all of this has been remembering to hold fast to one another as we travel through our own revision of Hell.  


  1. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it. There are times when DH did not understand my fears either. But with time, he has become a much better partner. It is better to share some pain with your spouse than bear it alone.

  2. With the sharing of our emotions to our spouse comes the realization that we aren't alone. I explained again to my spouse that I'm still angry at everything but I don't want to be. I want to be happy and thus I keep trying. He actually understood the hell I'm going through right now. It was rather surprising too.


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