May 30, 2013
Buffy Made Me Cry
About a month ago, I started binge-viewing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Two shows that I’d never seen an episode of. Since, of late, I had become a Joss Whedon fan, I figured it was high time I gave them a try. I certainly didn’t anticipate that I’d like the shows as much as I do. Last night I watched the episode from the fifth season titled “The Body.” It is the one in which Buffy’s mother, who had just recovered and was doing well from an operation to remove a brain tumor, suddenly dies of an aneurism. According to the Wikipedia entry on the episode, it’s the first episode where someone dies of natural causes. Suffice it to say, I cried for almost the entire episode.
While I won’t go into hyperbole mode and say it’s one of the best episodes of television, I will say for me, it was. The primary reason is that it hit so close to home. I was raised by a single mother as well. And like Buffy, I came home one day to find out she had suddenly died. And much like this episode, since I had no other family, my close friends, who were grieving and confused right beside me, was what helped me get through the period. I’ve not seen that process captured and conveyed so well as it was on this show. If I had seen this when it first aired, just around ten years after my mother’s death, I’d probably be even more of a wreck. The confusion, the grief, the attempts to be stoic, the need for support, the sitting with friends in awkward silence. I experienced all of that. As Amber Benson’s character Tara says, it’s different for everyone and yet there is an understanding that only people who have experienced this loss know. I’ve read that Whedon used the episode as his own outlet for dealing with his mother’s death. It’s a superb piece of television. From the complete lack of music, long tracking single camera shots, and simply the brutal honesty of death.
This all comes at a time when I’m planning a trip to Japan for my mother’s 23rd memorial service. The Bhuddists have specific years that are observed, and this one is to be the last one. That means it’s been 22 years since I lost my mother. And days if not weeks do go by without me thinking of her, but when the reminders hit, I realize the wound is still tender and will never heal. Perhaps it’s better that way. It’ll keep me grounded.