Friday, January 25, 2008
stream of empathy
since hearing of heath ledger's death, i can't seem to get his former fiance (and the mother of their child, matilda), michelle williams, out of my mind... i really don't know a thing about her - the first and last time i saw her was when she played his young wife on brokeback mountain.
i think i know what it's like getting that kind of news. i can still remember sitting on the floor of my drafty garden apartment, getting the phone call that informed me that my best friend and her sister had died in a fatal car accident. i'll never forget how the world stopped revolving for a moment... how in the middle of a clear, blue september day. it felt frigid and sounded dead as any midwestern day in february.
i can't even imagine how she'll explain his death to their daughter. or how she and matilda will fill such a vast hole in their lives.
i heard that michelle williams was flying to new york from sweden where she's working on a film and i was curious so i headed to imdb.com to seek more info and i found that she's working on a lukas moodysson film called mammoth:
"While on a trip to Thailand, a successful American businessman tries to radically change his life. Back in New York, his wife and daughter find their relationship with their live-in Filipino maid changing around them. At the same time, in the Philippines, the maid's family struggles to deal with her absence"
one of my fave actors, gael garcia bernal, plays the american businessman and michelle williams plays his wife. of course, i was very interested to hear more about this film with filipino actors (marife necesitos and martin de los santos) and the philippines in the storyline. i read somewhere that soon after shooting in sweden, the film crew would be shooting in thailand and the philippines.
and immediately, i remembered a vacation in cebu when i was a teenager... when i met a bunch of australian men on a surfing/diving vacation... who i mistakenly assumed and wrote off as "ugly" americans. after i got over my initial prejudices, they turned out to be very friendly, outgoing, vibrant and funny. and i thought to myself that i should really be less of an ugly american myself and elongate a future trip to the philippines to include a jaunt to australia...
and so i began to wonder if heath ledger had ever been to the philippines, since according to the australian surfers i met, aussies do like to visit the philippines... and i wonder if he had ever visited, if he liked it...
i wondered if the character that michelle williams plays will have to travel to the philipines. i hope she does as there's so much to experience, see and do there... and what if, heath had actually talked about someplace or something in the philippines that might have actually affected him or his perceptions...
which made me think of grace lin, one of my favorite children's book authors, who is sort of live-blogging a trip she's on, travelling thru china. last august, her husband passed away and she mentions her loss and her grief in a recent thoughtful, heartbreaking post on her new blog:
"And it is only from this vantage point, from way above, that I see what Robert had told me about Shanghai. He had called it a modern architect's dream, a city without any rules--allowing an architect to design his/her dream. Shanghai is an enormous hodgepodge of buildings, seemingly built upon eachother. And perhaps because I know how much Robert would have loved to have seen this, it is here that I see how much my life has changed. Faster than I had anticipated, I have created a new life for myself with a future that looks different than expected.
So, strangely, the pangs of grief I suddenly feel are not for myself but for him. It is for all the dreams he had that will not come true, all the plans he made that will not happen and all the things he wanted to see but never will.
I am glad, at least, I will see some of them for him. "
it's been over a decade and i still don't think i'm "fully recovered" from the sudden loss of my dearest friend. i don't think anyone ever really does. sometimes, i feel that her presence follows me around - she's bored out of her mind but still she follows. :) sometimes, days pass and i actually feel a little guilty that i haven't thought about her, when in the early days, she was never out of my mind... not. one. second.
i empathize with grace lin's thoughts and feelings in so many ways.... while i live this "unexpected future" - in all its brilliance and mystery. sometimes, i feel especially guilty that this present even exists for someone like me - who was not as bright, gifted and/or promising as my friend. sometimes, when i'm feeling especially pensive i ask myself what she would have done given a particular situation and find myself actually cracking a smile and supressing a laugh...
i sincerely hope and pray that as they grieve, heath ledger's family and friends will feel some comfort knowing that they are not alone in grieving and that they too will eventually recognize their "unexpected future" as the present and feel at peace.