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book – soulmate

One late night (early dawn, rather) during the Holy Week, while flicking through the channels I saw this interesting film on HBO, with the scene of a nurse entering a mental institution with a baby in a box, but changed her mind when she saw the untidy, forlorn place. It had the atmosphere of another slasher pic, ergo I got a bit more interested. Seeing Dermot Mulroney (yup, he of the ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ and ‘The Wedding Date’ fame – I loved him in both, btw) and Emily Watson (‘The Red Dragon’, ‘Gosford Park’) made me realize it was not a B-movie slasher pic after all. But it was 2:30 a.m., and even if my spirit was willing, my eyes were simply too weak. Thankfully HBO now flashes the movie title so it gave me the chance to try getting a copy (by what means, I’m keeping mum…ha ha). But before I can even “get” my copy, it was shown again on HBO, on Good Friday morning. I do not usually watch movies or DVDs in the morning, it tends to keep me lazy the whole day, but I made an exception on this one because I was really curious about where the film was going.

The movie is The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, about a doctor, David Henry (Mulroney), who delivers his twins one snow-stormy night, a perfectly healthy boy and a girl he immediately noticed as afflicted with Down syndrome. He made an immediate decision to have the baby girl brought to an institution by his nurse (Watson) who, however, could not leave the baby in a wretched place like the one Dr. Henry ordered her to go to. Dr. Henry made this decision because his own sister had Down syndrome, and her early death at age 12 ruined his mother’s life. Not wanting his wife to suffer that way, convinced that their daughter will also die young, he lied and told his wife that their daughter died at birth. Meanwhile, the nurse decided to keep their daughter who was named Phoebe and raised her amidst the hardships of raising a special child. Many events happened in between, without Mrs. Henry really knowing that their daughter was alive after all. Their son grew up to be a famous musician, and in one of his concerts, was watched with fascination by his twin sister, both of them 18 years of age.

The movie is one of the best films I have watched; it will grip your heart in so many ways. The ending leaves you with a heavy lump in your throat, which probably would not go away until you let it dissolve into tears. (I know I did.) It provides a lot of insights about life and relationships: how lies can destroy, how (supposedly) best intentions can mislead, how secrets cannot be carried to the grave. The best sub-theme of the film for me is how noble the nurse was in devoting herself, her love and her life to a child that is not hers – how motherly love – even of the foster kind – can transcend difficulties, and always provide a nesting place for a tired heart without seeking anything in return.

Reading further on the movie (yes, I have an annoying habit of googling), I realized why it all seemed so familiar. Seeing the book cover (had no idea it was adapted from a novel when I watched it), I realized I have been reading this book’s synopsis at the back cover in a bookstore long ago, wanting to buy it but for some reason did not.

Maybe there is such a thing as a book-meant-to-be, a book-soulmate that will come to you in whatever form, that is meant to touch your heart in ways inexplicable. I have about a million of them I think. What’s your book-soulmate?

sun*star.baguio.15apr2010.

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