What Mary Poppins Knows About Where Lost Things Go
I recently wrote about a song in the new Mary Poppins Returns (click to read). The DVD was just released and I have watched it more than once! I always look to Disney films to enlighten my experience, whether it was during caregiving, the depths of grief, or now, as I have re-entered life. Mary Poppins has been a favorite character since I was a child and she continues to captivate me. This new film is not a remake, which is probably a good thing, because the original was a spectacular entity unto itself which could never be recreated or duplicated. This new film is a treasure in a different way, with messages that resonated for me about love and loss.
Here are some of the poignant quotes and conversations that touched my heart and reaffirmed my belief that the people I have lost and whom I miss so dearly are here with me.
You can’t lose what you’ve never lost.- Mary Poppins
Annabel, John and Georgie Banks were lamenting the loss of their mom, fearing that the loss of their home would take her farther away. Michael Banks (their dad, and all grown up from the original) also dreaded the possibility of losing their home because his wife, their mother was so present there.
Listening to the children, Mary Poppins is sympathetic, but she points out that, “You can’t lose what you’ve never lost.” Seems odd, since, indeed, they lost their mom. She goes on to sing a beautiful song that I included on the previous post but am reposting here. It includes these lyrics:
The Place Where Lost Things Go
Composer: Marc Shaiman
Lyrics: Scott Wittman
Performed by Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins)
Time to close your eyes
So sleep can come around
For when you dream you’ll find
All that’s lost is found
Maybe on the moon
Or maybe somewhere new
Maybe all you’re missing lives inside of you
So when you need her touch and loving gaze
Gone but not forgotten is the perfect phrase
Smiling from a star that she makes glow
Trust she’s always there
Watching as you grow
Find her in the place where the lost things go.
In a recent post I wrote of a dream I had with Ben. I wish that I remembered my dreams better, but even if I don’t, I’m sure that my loved ones pop into my dreams and send me little messages. I see my parents, my grandma and Ben in so much of who I am, what I do and how I live my life. They are inside of me and have helped to shape me. I’m fortunate to have many good memories, and I have gained the ability to put the bad memories in perspective, as part of what made our entire relationships. In the film, the children are in their first year of grief. And, they are children, and as such, were so dependent on their mom, which made the loss and ability to find perspective, that much more difficult. Mary Poppins did try to comfort them, but her song also shows that she also listened to them and opened the way for discussion, which was something that they did not get from their father. He was not ready. That is a difficult dynamic, though common within a family where each person grieves differently and parents juggle their own grief and parenting. Of course, Mary Poppins helps Michael, too, which is why she is, indeed “practically perfect in every way!”
I do believe that my loved ones are watching me and are always with me. Our relationship is different now, but I suppose that, as Mary Poppins says, they are “gone but not forgotten.” I can still feel and connect with them even though they are now in the place where the lost things go. I hope that they are happy there, but I think it’s okay that I will always miss them here.
Your mother’s not gone. She’s in your smile, and your walk, John, and Annabel’s eyes. She’ll always be with us wherever we go.” – Michael Banks
There is a touching song at the beginning of the film where Michael Banks (yes, all grown up and with his own children) is looking through his deceased wife’s jewelry box and talking to her about missing her advice about ways to take care of the children. He has so many questions about how to talk to his children because she always seemed to know what to say to them and how to care for them. Michael struggles with losing the family’s house because he feels his wife is so present there. As he begins to fall apart in front of his children, they remind him that “nothing is lost, it’s only out of place.” As the children help Michael come to terms with this additional loss, he realizes that his wife remains present in the children and her spirit will not disappear with the house. I love when people tell me that they see my mom and dad in me. Just the other day, a friend said that she saw so much of my aunt Eleanor in me, and I see that, too. To this day, I have a hard time when I see that restaurants and shops that I visited with my mom or Ben have closed. It feels like I have lost the tangible evidence of our memories, taking them further and further away. I sometimes need to remind myself that I carry all of those memories and the relationships within them in my heart, and by sharing them, I pass them along.
“Some people think a great deal too much. Of that I’m certain.”- Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins says this to Michael as he is lamenting how he’s dealt with his children and the grief that they are all feeling, as well as how to solve his issue with his house. I think that we all overthink matters at certain times. Sometimes, as the song lyrics say, we must trust that our loved ones are there. There are moments when we have to listen to and follow our hearts. We can take a clinical or textbook approach to caregiving, grief, or life in general, and we can read all of the self-help books we can find, but we each find our own way to navigate our experiences. Sometimes the answers lie within us. We cannot always think things through and write a neat and clean plan. Life throws us curve balls. If we follow a sad road for a time, I think that’s okay. After all, grief is not a happy time and healing cannot be forced. That said, we should try to be attuned to our emotions and consider support groups and professional help if the feelings are overwhelming or troubling.
The truth, for me, is that having come out the other side of intense grief, I do see and feel all of this and understand how my loved ones were with me. But, in the depths of grief, sometimes I haven’t wanted to hear a “bright side” or a positive spin. Just as the Banks children needed to express that they missed their mom, and to be heard and validated, there have been times when I simply wanted to know that someone was listening to and understanding my sadness for what it is. There have been times when it has been so clear that people do this for their own comfort, whether it is because they are uneasy or impatient around tears or because they believe that “enough” time has passed for grief or because, with all good intentions, they just want me to feel better. Cheering up isn’t always the answer. Healing does happen, but it happens in its own timeframe. I’m proof of that, and also of the fact that there are ebbs and flows in grief and sadness or tears will happen forever. It means we loved and were loved, and that is a good thing.