I still remember the moment that I realized that Simba’s father, Mufasa, wasn’t coming back. I turned and looked up at my daddy and laid my head on his shoulder as a tear rolled down my cheek. My heart broke for Simba in that moment. Looking back now, I can totally identify with how Simba must have felt right then. Although I wasn’t there when my dad passes away, I felt the pain and the emotions of it deeply in my core. Much like Simba, I knew my father was gone before the words could even be uttered to me. Although I’ve never had my father’s spirit appear to me or talk to me, I’ve felt his presence with me at specific times in my life. I have to say that a part of me was always a little jealous of Simba and the fact that he got one last conversation with his father. Like Simba, I wanted to flee and escape the reality that my dad was gone. Although I wasn’t responsible for his illness or his death, I still found that I took ownership in his dying. I think it was my 16 year old brain trying to process everything that had happened to me in that previous year. Also, much like Simba I had some great friends who helped me learn to laugh and smile again. My best friend Brandi and my entire church family was there for me the entire year and a half that I grieved. Unlike Simba, I didn’t shut people out. I let them in and they loved me through that tragedy. Sadly, my mom wasn’t apart of that grieving process. She was unable to help me through my grief and because of that I am very thankful for the many people who walked that difficult road with me. Simba was lucky. He found his true love and his purpose (to be King) through his journey. I’ve moved through the stages of grief and there are parts of me that still miss my dad (especially with graduation coming up and walking down the aisle one day) but I’ve also realized that I carry him in my heart and in many ways my journey is just beginning.
I love this quote from the movie. Mufasa tells Simba that he’s essentially forgotten who his father is and ultimately forgotten who he (Simba) is. Have you ever gotten to that point? Been so deeply wounded that you forget who you are and act contrary to your nature? I’m also amazed that The Lion King was the first movie that came to my mind because Beauty and the Beast is one of my top favorite movies along with the first movie that I ever remember watching and owning, which was Lady and the Tramp.
I remember begging my mom to buy me Beauty and the Beast. She made me promise that I would fast forward the pub scene every time it came on. She didn’t like the drinking and revelry that took place. I promised but if I remember correctly I crossed my fingers. I never once remember actually fast forwarding the pub scene. But, this movie was so powerful to me and I connected with it on so many levels. I could totally identify with Belle because she was looked upon as a little strange because she loved books and thought for herself. I could identify with Beast because as an obese child I felt ugly and monstrous. But it was the kind people in my life, the people who saw past my weight and actually saw me and loved me that kept me from becoming monstrous. There’s a quote that hangs over my front door in my living room. It says, “always do the kindest thing in the kindest way.” That’s the mantra for my life. I always try to treat people the way I would want to be treated and I think that my experiences from being bullied and the outpouring of love that people lavished on me growing up formed this central, core identity within me. I never, ever want to make someone feel the way that I was made to feel as a child.
I think I’ve always loved Lady and the Tramp because I’ve always loved dogs … and it’s just a powerful story. It’s one of my favorite types of stories … which actually all three of these movies fit into. I love stories that offer redemption. You see … Tramp is just a scamp of a dog. He’s footloose and fancy free and content with his lot in life, until he meets Lady. Lady turns his world upside down and he finally realizes that he’s got this huge Lady shaped hole in his heart and he realizes that he’s missing out on the joy and love of family. I love Lady because she’s loving and gentle, but man if a rat gets between her and the baby, she’ll tear the rat to pieces if she can get to it. She’s loyal, fiercely protective and helps Tramp realize what he’s truly missing out on in life.
I love how all of these movies seem to connect the the theme of redemption. Simba is redeemed when he remembers who he is and comes back to claim his father’s throne. Beast is redeemed when he realizes that his outside appearance doesn’t have to be reflected in his heart. Just because he looks like a beast doesn’t mean that he has to act like one. Tramp is redeemed and rescued from off of the streets. He learns about love, loyalty and what it means to be a true friend. He also gets a lesson in heroism. These movies remind me no to give up on those we don’t understand. They may just need a little bit more love and a little bit more patience.