My grandmother would never speak of “dying”, and lived her life (in my opinion) like it was her last. Until one weekend, she wanted to spend extra time with us and the next thing you know, she passed in her sleep. I always thought that spiritually, she was ready. She had always been a woman of faith. Unfortunately, none of us were ready. None of us were prepared. I certainly wasn’t. For my own fault, I never said goodbye and it’s a guilt that has shadowed me from the moment I lost her.
The film “Day of Days” hit close to home in a sense that it reminded me that life does indeed end, and that in the spirit of those we lost, life still goes on.
In the film, we meet Walter Leland, a 91 year old retired bus driver living in California who has a big heart for baseball. He wakes from a dream and begins his day with a purpose. Slowly moving about his home, he puts on a suit and has trouble with his cufflinks. In walks Marisol, a woman from Cuba who was there as his caretaker for the day since his regular aid was out sick. She helps him with his cufflinks and asks if he has somewhere to go since he is all dressed up. As she makes him his usual breakfast, Walter tells Marisol to inform Yolanda (his regular caregiver) not to return. When Marisol asks him why, he simply states that he will be dying that same day. A confused Marisol continues to ask him why he thinks he is going to die and Walter informed her that he had a dream in which he saw a very bright light and knew that his time was coming that same day.
You can tell that Mr. Leland is a man of faith, bringing up God and prayer in several conversations with Marisol. However his new aid, on the other hand, has a very different opinion of God. When Walter asks Marisol if she believed in God, her only response was, “Faith and prayer are for the desperate, the lonely and the afraid.” Walter suggests that perhaps she feels that way because of Cuba’s regime. He assures her that she lives in America and no longer has to feel that way. She insists that there is no God and with much frustration at Marisol’s response, Walter knocks his food to the floor and goes for an early nap. It’s during this time that Marisol goes into his room, sits on his bed and begins to tell him the story of how she came to the states.
It’s here where we learn that Marisol fled Cuba 10 years ago in a group of 12, but only 4 made it to the Florida shore. Her son, Mateo, did not make it. It is because of this moment that Marisol lost faith in God. She holds the weight of guilt on her shoulders as she mentions that she was not able to hold on to her son during the crossing from Cuba to Florida. She blames herself for the loss of Mateo. We also learn that her son would have made 13 on that day, the day Walter Leland says he is going to die. Marisol states that she had never been to the beach when she got to the states, neither in Florida nor California because it reminds her too much of having lost her only son.
When Mr. Leland wakes from his nap, he apologizes for his behavior and shares the story of his own son, Bobby. Walter was once married, but his fantasy of becoming a big-league baseball player and problems with drinking led to their divorce. This led to him signing away his only son to be adopted by his wife’s new husband. He never saw his son again. When Marisol asks if he had ever reached out, Walter regretfully states that he wrote Bobby a letter, but never mailed it.
During another one of his naps, Marisol does some investigating on her iPad and finds Bobby online. She shows Walter and urges him to reach out to Bobby. At one point, earlier on in the film, Walter states that he writes about his days in a calendar, “If you don’t keep counting your days then your days don’t count. Then if they don’t count, you don’t count. I think a lot of people live their lives not counting”. Walter then, after a prayer, agrees to reach out to his son via a video recording to which he reads the letter he wrote to his son.
Marisol cries silently while she records Walter reading the letter to his son. I instantly felt connected to her. Watching this man tell his son how much he loved him while asking for forgiveness was also like watching him forgive himself. I felt that at that point in the film, Marisol learned to forgive herself and let go of the guilt she held on to.
I’d strongly recommend this film. I think that I can safely say that this isn’t a “religious” film. While there was conversation about faith, it wasn’t done so in a way that forces a particular religion to anyone. It’s simply the story of a man with great faith and a woman who has lost her faith meeting in the middle and adding value to each others lives, no matter how much time either of the two had in their lives. I think the fact that Mr. Leland eventually agreed to recording himself in a video to send to his son who he has always wondered about shows that when there is an opportunity to reach out to someone you love, even if it is to say goodbye, you should take that chance.
As I mentioned above and in other videos of mine, regret and guilt are hard things to get over when it comes to my grandmother and other aspects of my life, but I need to find an understanding between the two. I think the main characters in this film helped me get closer to that understanding. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I recommend it. Check out the trailer below and if you get the chance, watch the whole film. It can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes.
Xoxo Un besito,