Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Life and Death
My husband and I recently attended a matinee of the animated movie Coco. No grandkids, just us two, in a theatre predominantly filled with young families. A Mexican friend (who had been our first homestay student nearly 25 years ago, and is now a father of five) had messaged me suggesting I would probably enjoy seeing Coco, knowing as he did of my interest in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We rarely correspond these days but I am so glad he took the time to recommend this movie - it was a rich experience for all ages. We followed the journey of a young boy named Miguel, who crosses over a colourful marigold petal bridge with his dog, into the spirit world in search of a deceased relative. There he discovers the reasons behind the rituals of Dia de los Muertos and learns more about the ongoing connection between the living and the dead.
At times during the movie, I thought about my son Michael existing in that vibrant spirit realm - heartwarming. I also considered a few of the tie-ins between the movie and my life. Miguel (which of course is Spanish for Michael) is what we often called our son when visiting Mexico as a family. Also, our homestay student's youngest sibling (who we subsequently got to know very well, along with his whole family) is also named Miguel, and I continue to refer to these brothers as my Mexican sons. As well, that first homestay student and I are both linked to the two days of Dia de los Muertos celebrations through our birthdays, his being November 1st and mine the 2nd. Lastly, having signed up for Spanish classes this fall, I was able to understand a few more of the movie's Spanish language references than I would have before.
Down the road, I look forward to watching Coco with my grandchildren, as their curiosity often prompts discussions of what Uncle Mike's spirit might be doing and where he might be. And although our family does not observe Dia de los Muertos festivities, we celebrate the familial connections between the living and the dead, with as much joy and love as we can.