Last Monday morning (Sunday night, San Antonio time), I called my brother Jason to wish him his first happy Father's Day. Among other things, he mentioned that his three-year-old daughter Cami had gone almost a month without wetting the bed. "Anyway," he said, "we were real proud of her so we took her to see Toy Story 3 with Dad and Mom. She said it was scary. It has some scary parts for anyone under five."
The whole movie series holds a special place in my heart. When I was 12 years old, my brothers, my dad, and I went to see the original Toy Story in theaters. We liked it so much that as soon as it came out on VHS (in the time before DVDs, Blue Ray, and Youtube), we bought it and watched it incessantly for the next six years. It became part of our family's micro-culture: Dad and I reveled in quoting different scenes from the movie to each other, line-by-line.
If anyone came up with a solution, my dad would shout, "Out.. the... win-dow--Buzz, you're a genius!" Another of our favorites surfaced whenever somebody around us had a good idea. "I like your thinkin,' Woody," one of us would say with a twinkle in our eye. Quoting the movie was a way of expressing deep thought for my dad and me. It brought a sense of togetherness and like-mindedness. It was almost a form of non-verbal communication between us. All he had to do was say a few lines and I knew just what he meant. It communicated emotion that we could find no other way to show.
As we used their words to communicate, the characters themselves became symbolic of our own lives. I thought of this symbolism as Jason continued his description of Toy Story 3. "I'm not gonna ruin the movie for you," he said, "but there's a scene in there where the toys are--they're in a junk yard and they're heading straight for an incinerator. There's no escape. They all look at each other and hold hands and it's like, 'Well, at least we're all in this together.' That was powerful for me, given Grandpa's situation."
The week I was back in the States, my grandpa was admitted to the hospital and had to miss the wedding. The first time I called home after returning to Korea, Dad told me news about him. "I'm glad you called," Dad had said somberly. "I have something important to tell you." He said Grandpa had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, but Dad was quick to point out that we don't know exactly what that entails. Grandpa was released from the hospital after two weeks, but without a hopeful prognosis. He and my grandma are seeking treatment and remain hopeful throughout this new season, but his condition remains the same. My family and I are currently facing what the toys in the movie did: what looks like a certainty without a means of escape.
When my dad first told me about Grandpa, I was reminded of a truth found in Scripture that has given me peace. "Whether we live or we die, we are the LORD's," it says. I know who my grandfather belongs to--and I know who my family belongs to: They belong to the LORD. My grandfather is a servant of Christ, not a servant of mine. The LORD alone is the One who controls the outcome of these new events. The LORD will uphold my grandfather and fight for him. And if it comes to it, the LORD will bring him home. Jesus alone is the One will see him through this.
"[Toy Story 3] was a great movie to wrap up this set of characters," Jason said. I couldn't help but think of the end of our own story as he said it. It almost feels as if the LORD is closing a season for our family with this illness, "wrapping up the characters," so to speak. But just like the beloved gang on the screen, we still have each other. At least we're all in this together.