I stayed off of social media all weekend to avoid spoilers until I could see Avengers: Endgame on Saturday night. Then I continued to stay off social media because I had so many feelings. About the movie, and about things from my life. Ghosts rising up to haunt me. Stuff that makes me mildly nauseous to write about. But at least it’s Endgame spoiler free.
The Reality of Dealing with Grief and Guilt
What would the world look like if the entire population had simultaneously suffered a catastrophic loss? So poignantly illustrated in Endgame –we got to sink in to the reality of being a survivor in the aftermath of losing so many loved ones.
Even an expected loss, such as that of someone who has been suffering from a chronic condition or is in hospice, makes a profound impact. I’ve lost two people I was close to in my life– a best friend and my mother. Things I experienced in the wake of both deaths were the inability to concentrate, bursting into tears while driving, hyperventilating, eyes watering over the most innocuous things, insomnia, and depression. That was loss where it was not a huge surprise, no unexpected, violent ripping away of life.
In Endgame, we get to see the true toll this takes on somebody—physically, psychologically, and emotionally—and it doesn’t go away overnight. Add to that the survivor’s guilt, one of those things that logically you can tell yourself is futile, that there was nothing you could have done, that you are alive and that is a blessing, but no matter how much you tell yourself that, the guilt is there, the “I wish,” and the “if only,” and the “should I even be happy right now?”
Friendships between Men and Women
- Black Widow and Captain America – when shit hit the fan, these two naturally came together to regroup and rally the team.
- Black Widow and Hawkeye – so many people give Hawkeye shade, saying “I don’t care about Hawkeye,” but Black Widow cared about him a lot. They had history that was meaningful to their personhood, their sense of self.
- Captain Marvel and Nick Fury – their trust, esteem, and affection fueled that final significant action of Fury’s at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
These friendships were never cheapened with the “will they/won’t they there’s gotta be some underlying tension bla bla bla.” Nor were they questioned because they were between those of opposite genders. The tendency is always to assume, “oh, men are only friends with women because they’re waiting for a chance to sleep with them” and while there is truth to that, the truth is also that everybody needs friends, and men and women crave nonsexual, meaningful relationships with each other but don’t know how to have them because of the constant pressure to sexualize it.
One of the most precious friendships I had in college was with a man. We were like two peas in a pod. We studied together, ranted about racist propaganda together, commiserated over movies together, went dancing together, and he was the only one of my friends who was able to come to my college graduation after-celebration. It’s a friendship I hold dear to my heart to this day. Even though we lost touch and I have not been able to find him again, I think about him often.
The Truth of Never Getting Over Someone
Steve Rogers’s grief and longing for Shield Agent Peggy Carter as been a through-line in the Captain America and Avengers movies. He visits her when she is slipping away from life in Winter Soldier, his love not at all waned by her age and infirmity. The look on his face when she loses her place in time for a moment and says “Steve. You came back,” was heartbreaking. Sure, he had that brief romance if you could call it that with that nurse/Shield agent who’s name I can’t remember, which just goes to show that it’s always been Peggy because nobody was excited about that unearned self-consciously placed kiss in Age of Ultron? Civil War? But that’s how it is when you are trying to get over someone you’re not truly over by starting something with someone else—the thing with that someone else is colorless and forgettable. Peggy looms large in Cap’s mind in the devastating aftermath of Snapture even after so much time has passed and that was treated as something true and real.
To this day, the one who still makes me tear up when I’m talking about him to yet another therapist, that I compare to new men the way Carrie compared Mr. Big to Aidan, Berger, and Aleksandr, is the man who broke my heart right after college. Some people you just never get over and I had this terrible feeling that was going to be the case with him and damned if that didn’t turn out to be true. It’s tempting sometimes to wallow, to feel pathetic and ridiculous about it. But if Captain America, if Steve Rogers, who is one of the most strong and noble and decent people on the planet can have a love that lingers and hurts and survive, then so can I.