A Time to Remember
The phrase "life imitating art" has been playing uneasily through my head for many weeks. For me one movie brings that theme out for me more then any other. That movie is "A Time to Remember".
Leslie's concert DVD's elicit feelings in me based on their face value because it is footage of a concert. They are images of Leslie being Leslie.
But movies start off with a preconceived story line and perhaps a sub plot. Yet since Leslie's suicide on April 1st, "A Time to Remember" has been gnawing at something in my mind. The phrase "life imitating art" keeps coming up from my heart and my head has been trying to deal with it.
"A Time to Remember" is a story built around two comrades during the time of a social/political era in China. One male and one female comrade develops a subplot containing the love story between Jin (Leslie's role) and Qiu Qiu.
Jin, we learn has been injured numerous times during the revolution and as a result has shrapnel lodged in his head that is causing severe seizures. As the seizure reoccurs throughout the movie, it seems that a particular passage, apparently from an anthology of Russian stories could always make them subside:
"The sun rises, an eagle flies toward heaven and suddenly stops as if frozen in the blue sky. No one know why it flies what it needs The sun rises the sun rises " (if this is an actual excerpt I wish I knew the rest of it)
Later in the movie we learn that Jin's wife led him to join the revolution. "For a long time I followed my convictions because I was following her " One day the counter-revolutionaries came for him while he was out and held his wife captive in a room of their apartment. Somehow she freed herself and when he came home the only way she could warn him was to sacrifice herself by jumping out the window.
Jin continues that it was a very tall building and she was in the air for a long time He witnessed her plunge and the horror of that sight comes to him during his seizures and the passage "an eagle flies toward heaven and suddenly stops as if frozen in the blue sky " seems to calm him down as if to say that it was the mortal body that lands at his feet but the soul had taken flight toward heaven from the moment she leapt.
This is what I hope happened with Leslie on that fateful day. That his soul had already soared toward heaven and his mortal body felt no pain as it landed on the cold cruel ground below. As some reports have said, Leslie also had a witness on the ground. Someone who had known and loved him well.
The American doctor who was trying to help Jin could have been equated to Leslie's psychiatrist: "Jin when you have these attacks do you hallucinate?" The answer could be liken to the depression periods of Leslie's illness: "Yes, it's like a dream. I'm in another world. I can't tell if its heaven or hell. Strange, sometimes I want to stay in this dream." I keep wondering if it could have been like that in Leslie's mind during those last moments. Was it a hellish decision to step up over the edge or was he at peace already and just slipped into the wind?
In the movie the doctor who befriended Jin offers him an operation to stop his seizures but the results could not be guaranteed. The next seizure could be the one that kills him but the operation if not successful could in Jin's eyes be worse then death. His body could remain living but his brain would no longer function with the brilliance it once did. Refusing the operation Jin stops at the door as he is leaving and quotes an old Chinese saying, "Shi Si Rui Gui" "Death is like returning home".
Because of this illness called Depression, could Leslie have felt, in a lucid moment, that preserving a body wherein lives an illness that would not heal was not worth all the suffering?
"Death is like returning home". Often our earthly home is considered our sanctuary from the everyday world. There we hope to find privacy, peace and a chance to re-energize ourselves for continuing in the rat race of the outside world. Perhaps the heavenly home was a vision and prayer that Leslie had, to provide him with an eternal sanctuary.
One month anniversary already I still feel sadness at times. The finality of it all really struck me at the moment of the cremation. It was the bitter realization that Leslie would never be among us again. It must be human nature to treasure the material things in life first. We grieve the loss of Leslie's mortal body on earth more then taking comfort that his soul like the eagle had already soared toward heaven free and still beautiful.
- by Karen