P.S. I Love You, 2007
Starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Nellie McKay, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Synopsis (From IMDB):
Holly Kennedy is beautiful, smart and married to the love of her life – a passionate, funny, and impetuous Irishman named Gerry. So when Gerry’s life is taken by an illness, it takes the life out of Holly. The only one who can help her is the person who is no longer there. Nobody knows Holly better than Gerry. So it’s a good thing he planned ahead. Before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief, but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly’s 30th birthday in the form of a cake, and to her utter shock, a tape recording from Gerry, who proceeds to tell her to get out and “celebrate herself”. In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure and each signing off in the same way; P.S. I Love You. Holly’s mother and best friends begin to worry that Gerry’s letters are keeping Holly tied to the past, but in fact, each letter is pushing her further into a new future. With Gerry’s words as her guide, Holly embarks on a journey of rediscovery in a story about marriage, friendship and how a love so strong can turn the finality of death into a new beginning for life.
So often in film weddings we hear the lines echoed “until death do us part” but in both P.S. I Love You as well as in the Baha’i concept of marriage this is not the case. A true marriage is more than a physical union but is also a spiritual union. If a marriage is not a spiritual union then it is bound to end, which I discussed in my last post. But what if it is a true union? It lasts for eternity, beyond death.
In Holly and Gerry’s case he made sure to love her and guide her beyond death through preparation of recordings, letters, and gifts throughout Holly’s year of mourning. Throughout the film in the beginning Holly feels is presence as if he is still there, then gradually that fades to memories, until finally Gerry is no longer seen. This could be because Gerry’s soul must move on…
“Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God” ~ Bahá’u’lláh
However, how valid is Holly’s experience? She felt that in addition to the explicit signs Gerry had prepared to be sent to her via intermediaries, there were other signs more subtle that were from beyond. We have all heard tales or perhaps experienced ourselves whether dreaming or waking the presence of loved ones who have passed on.
While we cannot understand fully death and life, there is a wonderful metaphor that has helped me when thinking about it. A baby in a womb is both in this world and not in this world at the same time. We can feel it kick through its mother’s skin, and can talk to it, yet the connection is tenuous at best. Perhaps this world is like our giant womb, and then loved ones who have passed on to it able to sing to us, and touch us indirectly as easily as we can an unborn child. Perhaps this is also why we struggle in this world, to prepare for the next.
“You ask an explanation of what happens to us after we leave this world: This is a question which none of the Prophets have ever answered in detail, for the very simple reason that you cannot convert to a person’s mind something entirely different from everything they have ever experienced. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave the wonderful example of the relation of this life to the next life being like the child in the womb; it develops eyes, ears, hands, feet, a tongue, and yet it has nothing to see or hear, it cannot walk or grasp things or speak; all these faculties it is developing for this world. If you tried to explain to an embryo what this world is like could never understand- but it understands when it is born, and its faculties can be used. So we cannot picture our state in the next world. All we know is that our consciousness, our personality, endures in some new state, and that that world is as much better than this one as this one is better than the dark womb of our mother was…”
(On behalf of the Guardian, Lights of Guidance, p. 208-209)
Films like this help us all process grieving and allow for contemplation over life, death, and marriage. Holly and Gerry’s marriage was not perfect, but they were willing to sacrifice for one another and truly did love each other.