Tuesday, October 8, 2013

an open letter to Pixar from a mother who has died inside

Dear Pixar,

Sunday afternoon, I sat with three of my children and watched Toy Story 3 while Mr. Fantastic and Boy 1 were at a birthday party.

Pixar, we are huge fans, by the way. With four kids and a preference for intelligent and meaningful movies without potty-humor content or curse words, yours are our favorites.

A family of six practically has to take out a loan to go to the movies these days, but we shell out the big bucks, buy the popcorn, and make a grand night of it every time one of your movies comes out.

(We love you, is what I am trying to say.)

Sunday was the second time I had seen Toy Story 3- the first time was in the theater. I vaguely recalled crying at some point, but it was a hazy memory and I dismissed the thought that maybe I was a little too tender emotionally to handle this animated film. My grandmother is not doing well, so I knew Up would have done me in, but surely I was stable enough for this latest installment in the Toy Story narrative.....


I died. Dead. I was dying a thousand deaths inside, confronted with the pain of lost childhood: mine that is long gone, my children's that is slipping through my hands like sand.

My heart reached for the three little people planted solidly on the sofa around me, and their love ran through the grasp of my memory and out onto the beach of a lifetime that holds all my days with them as well as the coming days without them.

How did this movie make me suddenly know that the present slips silently away into a vast, distant, and misty place we pertly label as the past?

Oh, Pixar, what are you doing to me??!!

I am Andy. My children will be Andy. We are all ANDY! This is horrible!!!

Even worse, were the non-chalant, unaffected faces of my precious babies staring at what I considered to be a display of horror in front of us.

Dear Lord, they don't even know what is happening to them.

Maybe it is better that way. Who could bear growing up if they really knew the way the magical time of childhood is gone much sooner than anyone expects? Maybe it's good that we don't know we are Andy too soon in life.

Honestly, in Toy Story 3, Andy doesn't even realize that he is Andy. He just kind of stares at Woody with wistful eyes, then hands him over to Bonnie with a sigh. It seems so heartless.

"Poor Bonnie," I thought. "How will she ever be able to give Woody away someday??"

But we all do it, don't we? We grow up and live the dreams of college, wedding dresses, first cars, first jobs, first homes of our own, trips to far-off places, first babies, and on and on the dreams of tomorrow pull us away from the beauty of yesterday.

Now that I think about it, Andy even seemed happy to see her playing with Woody.

Oh, no. A new truth that I can hardly bear is materializing in my understanding: We pass it all on.

We really do, don't we? We pass on the joy, the love, the beauty of a life lived for the sake of others. This is how we are able to endure the loss of our pasts; watching the beauty replay in the lives of those we love sacrificially.

Oh, Pixar, you have done it to me again. You wanted me to die today.

You wanted me to die so that I would say yes when my kids asked to play UNO again. You wanted me to be haunted by Woody's face when he looks at Andy for the last time, so I would put down my phone and read the one zillion books my four year-old just handed me. You killed me with your beautiful story because you don't want my kids growing up and crying to songs like "Cats in the Cradle", or telling me off for missing all the best days of their childhood because I was too busy at the computer, too distant with my brain in a book, or too busy with all this work I have to do.

My heart is shredded by your film in an intelligent, meaningful, no-potty-humor way. It is horrible and it is wonderful, the way you compressed the weightiness of life into two hours of animated film. But you wound in love, Pixar. I suppose I can appreciate that.

Please keep killing me with your films. You make me a better mom, and my kids need that. Maybe the whole world needs that, really.

(I love you, is way I am trying to say.)

Forever your fan,


  1. Oh my goodness, you just put into words every single bit of emotion I felt when I watched Toy Story 3. I cried like a baby...and all because of what you wrote up there in your blog post.

    Ps. I found your blog through the Rewriteconf hashtag on Twitter. I'm going too. Hooray!


    1. Now I feel like I know someone else going to the conference! That makes me happy!!