(Doctor Who: S6, E15 "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe")
My father died 17 years and 1 day ago. Today would have been his 67th birthday. In 3 days it will be my 29th birthday.
It may be needless to say that I have been a little drawn in on myself the last few days. It happens every year at this time. To call it depression isn't the right word. Closed would be more accurate. My heart closes, protecting itself from regrets of final mistakes and lost possibilities. Around noon I was struck by a thought. "Hey, I totally missed watching the Doctor Who Christmas special this year. I don't really feel like doing anything right now, I think I'll watch that." You see, in some respects I have very good instincts; even when I would rather not find an answer, something inside me will show me what I need.
And at it's best Doctor Who is what we all need. We all need love. We all need magic. We all need strength in our suffering. We all need rest in forgiveness.
On Christmas Eve 1941 Madge makes a wish. Though we don't hear it, the Doctor does. She wishes for a beautiful Christmas to ease the news she must tell her children that their father's plane has been lost over the Channel and that he has died in service of his country. To repay her kindness in helping him a few years earlier when he fell from the sky in a backwards space suit, the Doctor meets Madge and her children Lily and Ceril at an old house as The Caretaker. He's renovated the house with all children could ever ask for; moving furniture, a lifetime of toys, a fabulous tree, and a huge present to be opened the next morning. Ceril can't wait and in the night opens the present: a doorway into a beautiful snow-filled forest, the prefect Christmas adventure. The Doctor and Lily, and then Madge, all go through the box in search of Ceril, who has been taken by the trees, who are trying to transport their life-forces off the planet before it is burned for fuel. Madge, as a mother, is able to take the life-forces into herself, to be a lifeboat for them, and must use her memories of home to guide their ship through the time vortex. She wishes to hold onto her happy memories of her husband, and fights against seeing his last moments, but by facing the truth of his death, is able to create a light for his plane to follow, and the family is reunited on Christmas morning. In thanks, and with a great deal of practicality, she orders the Doctor that he is not to spend Christmas alone, that he must go to his friends who think he has died. Forced by the unassailable logic of a practical mum, the Doctor goes to Amy and Rory, who set a place for him at dinner every year. River told them that he wasn't really dead (of course!) and after a few shots from a squirt gun for his obstinacy, Amy and Rory lead him into their home, with the simplicity that love allows. The Doctor allows himself a few private tears of happiness.
Outside of fiction space and time travel will not allow a lost loved one to return to us. In that Doctor Who is beautiful wish-fulfillment. There is no mad man with a box who can circumvent death. But that does not relegate Doctor Who into trivial escapism, a wouldn't-it-be-nice fantasy. Presents do not negate the loss of a parent, but pleasure is a comfort that reminds us that we will not always be in pain. In grief our suffering is extreme, but to accept that suffering is an expression of the depth of our love. And our love cannot be taken from us. Death may physically separate husband from wife, parent from child, friend from friend, but with honesty in our heart, the true acknowledgement of both joy and sorrow, our love unfolds beyond past and future as the light of our present.
Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.
Making the world a better place, one show at a time.
- The TV Girl
- Washington, DC, United States
- I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.