Kara’s Collection: Tears in my Popcorn

from an article originally posted July 31, 2014...

I wrote a review after seeing A Fault In Our Stars with friends. When I left that movie I simply didn’t feel my biggest was ready for the movie. Then one evening we had a dinner party and a friend changed my mind. Chris Hooper gently spoke to me about my decision to keep Ella from this book and this movie. He was so kind to listen to me and my fears.

He then turned to me and gently told me something I had not considered. Chris has unique entrance into my heart and my story because he lost his mama at a young age to cancer. He simply said, Kara, Ella is the only person among her peers that understands the pain of cancer. Letting her read this book and see this movie will help her not feel alone. In that tender comment I knew he was right.

I told Ella she could read the book, and she absolutely consumed it. She has been asking for a movie night for the two of us. The movie came to the dollar movie theatre in town, and last night we ran away together to see this heartbreaking story. On the way, we talked about the sex scene in the movie. I told her how Jason and I deal with scenes we don’t feel comfortable watching. She heard my heart in it, and was careful when the scene approached to protect her heart.

There was a point in the movie where Hazel Grace bowed her head and said, This is not the life I want. That moment cracked the brave veneer of my daughter. Ella was undone.

Together we left the movie arm in arm and sat quietly in the car and shared our hearts, our hurts, and the pain of our present. I was able to tell Ella what a cherished child she is. I was able to articulate through the tears my hopes for her story. I shared that I long for her to remain a young lady, and if I do fly away, I asked her to let my girlfriends step in and bring big mama love to our family. But we were honest about the high calling of being oldest in a family like ours. I honored her heart, her protection of her siblings, her big sister love.

I went on to ask her to enjoy life, even if my life is fading. I asked her to embrace joy, to live each moment bravely. Then we wept, wept for the story we have been asked to receive, but struggle to understand. Then we spoke of the hope of heaven—our future together. A hope lacking in the movie.

I came home and shared with Jason the gift of the painful evening with Ella. Then he went on to share his burdens. We laughed, we wept, we tried to articulate our hearts in a new way. I will say, I woke this morning with painfully swollen eyes from so many tears. I looked at Ella, and she too was sporting swollen eyes.

I always say tears are the best evidence of love. They must be braved. The movie has a quote that is fitting, Pain demands to be felt. Goodness, I believe it’s true. Chris Hooper was right, this was good for our hearts. All of us try and live braving our pain. We need these moments to release the pressure cooker of pain that builds up over time.

How do you brave your pain? How do you struggle to live near to your pain honestly? Does living well mean faking at happiness when you are inwardly breaking? What would sharing your pain look like? Do you feel the pressure of hiding how you are feeling? How can you live honestly today? How can you let the tears fall in your popcorn?

I will forever cherish this painful night with my first born. I will forever love the tears she braved with me. I love that we had this time where we could speak honestly about my flying away, her pain in the separation, and the struggle for joy in the midst of pain.

I ended by asking her what Ella wants from me while I’m still here. She simply said, You, Mommy. I don’t need to jump through any exciting hoops to love her well. I simply need to live beside her with all the love I’m granted to pour out onto her tender heart.