Hero Worship

FINDING DORY – Pictured (L-R): Charlie, Dory, Jenny. ©2016
Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Dear Jenny and Charlie,

Let me just open with the fact that this is my first fan letter.  I've written quite a bit in general and I've threatened to write many a strongly-worded letter about IMPORTANT things like bad driving habits of seemingly every other motorist on the road with the exception of me, but this is the first time I've actually followed through with pen on paper....er, fingers on keyboard.  But after seeing your story when I took Sweet Girl and Little Man to watch "Finding Dory" I knew you needed to hear from me.  I hope you understand all this.  I know Dory can read English if need be, but I'm afraid I don't speak Blue Tang or any kind of whale.  I'm going out on a limb to say that if you can understand Sigourney Weaver then you can follow along with your #1 fan. That's me.  I'm your #1 fan.  Let me tell you why.

I'm writing you to say thank you.  Thank you for sharing.  Thank you for letting the world see a loving family.  Thank you for understanding that when ordinary isn not an option, extraordinary is the way to go.  I have a Dory of my own.  My Dory is a lot like yours; a great spirit presented in a not-so-ordinary package.  Autism can make memory, language, emotional development, and relationships seem different.  Sweet Girl - my Dory and by the way, Dory's her favorite - lives her life on that spectrum and so "ordinary" was left in the dust about nine years ago.  Small things like remembering an address or phone number seem like major challenges sometimes.  Just like you, we used music to try to make that easier.  Sweet Girl and Dory would sing some incredible duets I'm sure!  And just like you, I worry.  When you cried, Jenny, wondering if Dory would be ok, if her future would be safe and secure; I knew those tears.  I've cried them over and over when I let the worry weigh my thoughts down too much.  I've felt that anxiety.  I know that dark place where everything that can go wrong goes through your mind in Cassandra-like clarity and I know the feeling that all your efforts may not be enough.  I sat in the movie theater and cried with you Jenny.  I cried until my own Dory grabbed my hand and my Nemo (that's Little Man) patted my arm.  Neither of them said a word - mostly because their mouths were stuffed with popcorn - but answered my emotional outpouring with comfort.  They're good eggs.  And when Dory finally found you; when she saw the work of years of hope and persistence on your parts; when the seashells led her to your new home....ugh.....my heart filled to bursting and pushed more tears out of my leaky eyes and firmly placing the two of you on my Hero List.  I want to be like you.

So thank you for showing the rest of Seadom and earth that when ordinary isn't an option extraordinary is the way to go.  Thank you for showing that there is always another way.  Many people think that not doing things the same war many people do them, or at the same time many people do them, means that those things won't get done.  That because someone can not speak, they will have nothing to say.  Or that because someone cannot immediately recall information they will never remember anything important.  To those "many people," extraordinary kids and adults seem like a life of less.  You showed there's always another way.  The path may look different and take a different amount of time to traverse, but the destination is the same and that's a life of different not less.*  Thank you.  Thank you for reminding Dory not to be sorry for being her.  You love her, her challenges, and her accomplishments as she does them and how she does them.  By telling her not to be sorry when she forgets, you reinforce that she does not have to apologize for a life of different.  Her short-term memory loss helps make her who she is.  She is able to just keep swimming (brilliant bit, that) because of what she remembers and often what she forgets.  If she had to say "sorry" for that, she would really just be apologizing for being her.  It's a simple thing, but it is powerful and important:  Be you and don't be sorry.  You and all that comes with that is enough, no apologies necessary.

Not everyone understands that idea, so thank you for showing people what that looks like and thank you for appreciating the people (marine life, clearly I'm more speciesist than I realized) that just kept swimming with Dory.  You're so right: they are family.  Anyone who sees the essential rather than the labels or differences, they will be kept close in spirit forever.  Sweet Girl has a huge family including all the therapists who helped her find those other ways and all the teachers who push because she *should* be pushed all while using more than their eyes to see her.  Our family has grown because of Sweet Girl and Little Man, just as yours did through Dory's journey (journeys, she's a brave fish that girl of yours).  Bringing more people together in a spirit of unconditional acceptance is never a bad thing, whether they sit around the dinner table or are scattered throughout the big blue ocean.  Family is always welcome, as are heroes.  If you ever find yourselves topside Jenny and Charlie, I will always have a fish bowl ready for you.  Bring Sigourney Weaver!  I'm sure I can find purple seashells for her too.  Anyway......thanks again for sharing.  Thanks again for showing the basics of extraordinary parenting; start with love and just keep swimming.
It's bright topside,
bring some sunscreen!

Your #1 Fin Fan
You can call me Marlin #2

*Thank you Temple Grandin and family for that phrase.


  1. I love this and I needed to read it. I'm a teacher and I sort of suffered through this movie because, at every turn, it made me think quite painfully of an exceptional child lost from family and unsure what to do next. While I cheered Dory's triumphs, it felt too real. When she followed the shells, I gripped my husband's arm too tight, whispering Do you SEE? Isn't this KILLING YOU? THAT POOR BABY who needed her mom and dad and they were apart for years!
    I had a bad bad case of the feels. As I do with many things, I overanalyzed it and ruined it for myself and, um, perhaps for others, too. Although Dory is resilient and resourceful and a delight, I could only see the seeming unfairness of her struggle--the accidental separation and the fear of her parents and the poignant flashbacks to her happy family life. I"m kind of a downer sometime.
    I'm glad it was a much more positive and meaningful experience for you. XOXO

    1. Thank you for your comment. It was difficult to watch for me as well. Sweet Girl went missing for a short (seemingly endless) amount of time almost a year ago. Before I saw her face again, every negative scenario played through my mind....twice. As a mother and a teacher, it's hard not to think of the challenges that are still to come for my kid (and the kids I teach), but I make every effort to focus on the progress and the possibility. It's just not always easy like you said. :) I hope you can watch the movie sometime in the future and that it's a more positive experience for you! Thanks again for sharing your experience. :) Sarah


Post a Comment

Popular Posts