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The Special Message in 'Frozen 2' for My Grieving Family

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In the movie Frozen II was a personal message for the three of us — his father, sister and me — to keep going one step at a time, no matter how inconsequential; to do the next right thing.

When visiting family over the holidays, the lot of us always went to see a movie. Sometimes the whole group of parents and children went to the same film; other times we split up. The movie choice historically was from the latest Disney Animation, Harry Potter or Marvel series or other independent family comedies.

In 2013, the Disney movie Frozen released in theaters. It was my daughter’s choice to select that holiday because she is the youngest of the cousins at 15 years old. The other cousins were adults, the next youngest being my son at nearly 20 years old. Frozen was not my son’s first choice, but we all went along. Fast-forward, the movie was a box office hit with the best original song, “Let it Go.”

“Let it Go” has become the anthem for those living on the margins, struggling with mental illness or other challenges, empowering them to uncloak what they have been hiding and accept the things that make them different. The song permits a person to let go of the past, or whatever was holding them back (i.e., fears, doubts, insecurities) and release themselves from the expectations of others.

The movie came out when my son was in college at Montana State University. I found the song on my son’s Disney playlist on Spotify. He introduced the movie and music to his exchange-student friends. A college friend shared he had great enthusiasm for the film. It was their go-to movie when feeling melancholy. For amusement, he would send his friends humorous Frozen-themed memes through the Snapchat (how I wish those were retrievable). He would sing the ballads on road trips, and these were his best performances.

I wonder if the song has special meaning for my son, similar to those on the fringe who have shared their attachment to the song. Or perhaps he loved the song simply because it is a great one and a way to connect with friends.

Every story, thought, memory, picture and video of my son someone shares with me is a gift. I received such a gift last summer. One of his friends from Kent, United Kingdom, who worked at the same summer camp with him in PA, shared a video. My son is singing “Let it Go” with a karaoke machine in a small town bar with camp friends.

Her additional gift was a story, which I am sharing with you.

“A video with friends and your son has just popped up on my Facebook timeline from five years ago today. In the video, I am singing karaoke, and your son is dancing and singing along with our two other friends. The camp where we worked is located outside of Poyntelle, PA, in the village of the Preston Township. The backdrop is beautiful rolling foothills of the Pocono Mountains, surrounded by many gorgeous lakes and ponds.”

The villages are not municipalities, so the Census Bureau does not keep records of the population size, but I did find on  the population size of Poyntelle at 20. There are seven named streets in the township. The town supports two summer camps outside of the city limits, one being Poyntelle Lewis Village, where my son worked for two summers.

“There was a small group of camp workers above the drinking age. On the rare evenings free, we would venture out to have a drink and time away from the campers. We became close friends from these fun nights out. The only bar in the town is The Poynte, and The Poyntelle Dragon was the bar’s signature drink, meant for sharing, which we did. We played lots of card games and shuffleboard. After an evening of fun, we would stumble home around one or two o’clock in the morning, knowing well we had to be up at around seven a.m. the next day. The night the video was taken was especially fun. I have so many fun memories with your son, and I still think of him, especially during the summer, when my camp pictures pop up on Facebook.”

I am thankful for my son’s friends. I remember him telling me how special and consequential they were to him. I can see why.

Frozen II was released shortly before Thanksgiving this year. The three of us — my daughter, her father and I — went to see it together, keeping with tradition. Once again, there is a list of accolades for the movie and the music.

Similarly, there is a song for those struggling mentally, grieving, in despair or feeling betrayed. It encourages at a time when things look hopeless, by doing one positive action at a time, doing the next right thing — not giving up.

The lyrics are so relatable, especially for my daughter, who lost her brother. The character, Anna, is struggling at a pivotal time in her life and longing for her older sister, Elsa. My daughter saw the movie beforehand with a close friend and forewarned me to bring tissues. She was correct. I sat with the movie replaying in my mind for weeks. I went back to listen to lyrics from the song, “The Next Right Thing.” Comprehending one phrase at a time, then all of it together.

In the lyrics is a message for the three of us to keep going one step at a time. It would be so much easier to hide under the covers and not get out of bed. Not face responsibility or pursue any feeling of happiness given this complex grief and devastation from the loss of my son and my daughter losing her only sibling.

I do not know how to operate in my new life, and looking too far ahead is painful because he is not there with us in the same way as before. It is OK just to have the ability to get through the next day. It is OK to be where I am at in my life. Later, I may have the strength to take on more. At his moment, I take it as a sign to do things a little at a time.

Image via Youtube

Originally published: December 16, 2019
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