Sibling Assignment #90: " In Sickness and In Health"

I gave Sibling Assignment #90 this week:

As Valentine's Day approaches, think of a specific film, book, poem, or work of art that helped you understand the emotion of love and explain why. You can find Silver Valley Girl's exploration of love in The Sound of Music here and RP's will be posted soon.

My answer is the film Shadowlands.

I have always been drawn to films and books with a theme of " to have and to hold in sickness and health". The emotion of love has been depicted in so ways in film, but when couples have to deal with the sickness of their spouse, I think they have a choice. I am moved by those that show deep devotion while caretaking an ill or suffering loved one. I don't know why I have always been drawn to these kinds of movies, knowing they usually end in sadness. One thing that has always stayed with me is the love that is expressed in so many ways in a film with this theme.Of course I also love movies that make me grab the Kleenex box, but Shadowlands explores love at many different levels. The story is about the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham as they built a relationship that started with letters across the ocean after she had read some of his books, to a meeting in London, followed by a friendship, companionship, and deep love. In this true story Joy brings Lewis out of a comfortable life which included his teaching at Oxford, his friends, and his writing. As the movie unfolds the viewer can observe a quiet relationship in the making and also see the surprise that occurs when love envelopes a person and how completely unaware he can be. That is what happens to C. S. Lewis. Joy gets cancer and Jack is there to caretake for her and her son. As he reads to her while she rests in bed or when they take drives around the countryside you can watch a deep devotion build between the two of them. Love doesn't require loud music, wild dancing, or other adult themes. This building love is quiet and takes the viewer along through the beautiful countryside of England.

The title comes from Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, in which "the world as we know it and other worlds like it are referred to as the 'shadowlands', because they are only a shadow of what is to come." Even after meeting Joy I don't think Jack was ready to step out of the shadowlands. As he was enveloped in friendship and finally in a deep love I believe he was still in the shadowlands. When he stepped out is when he found what was to come. There is pain and suffering that can come with love. As Joy was ill she tried to prepare Jack for what was to come. "We can't have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That's the deal. "

Many couples in love experince much happiness, but sometimes pain. That's the deal. When my dad was surrounded by my mom, the rest of his family and his devoted friends as he was dying everyone gave him the best love and care they could . The same is true of other couples I have known when one is ill or suffering. The questions asked are ," What do you need? How can I help you?" It brings me back to the wedding vows and " to love and to cherish from this day forward , in sickness and in health". JEJ and I just talked about this topic today at lunch. For some it is a real test of their relationship. For others it is another way to express love in a deep, profound way.

"Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice; as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal." C.S. Lewis quoted these words at the end of the film and he continued to struggle with his pain and loss which can be further explored in his book A Grief Observed — Lewis's own chronicle of his reactions following Joy Gresham's death.

This film showed me how love can build from friendship and also that love can happen at all times in life. Love can surprise is when we least expect it. This is still one of my all-time favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, or haven't in awhile it would be a perfect Valentine's Day choice.


  1. today at church we saw a short video of a man with Lou Gerigs disease. He did a video diary and this particular one, he could hardly talk, and he talked about his wife and her devotion.
    She wouldn't see the video until after he died.

    "I hope she finds someone else who loves her as much as I do," he had tears rolling down cheeks.

    Wow. That is a great amount of love.

  2. This is a wonderful portrayal of love. I remember seeing it on stage in Boise when we lived down there, and it is a wonderful play as well. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and this is a truly wonderful display of love. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. The little picture of you on the right side of the page is SO cute! But I think you need to title it: Inland Empire Princess!!!!!

    Love that blond hair and all those curls! Cute as can be!


  4. Shadowlands is such a great story. My favorite moment is when she tells him that the pain of later is part of the love of now.

    Silver Valley Girl, I may have seen the same production you saw. It would have been about 15 years ago at Boise Little Theatre. I did a number of shows with them around that time, but I was just an audience member at Shadowlands.

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