“What is grief, if not love persevering?”

Rob Pavacic

I’ve been watching all Marvel movies and tv shows non-stop as if I were studying for an exam. Something about Marvel stories speak to me in ways other movies and shows do not.

This may be partly due to my history with watching Marvel. Ever since the first Iron Man movie premiered, I’ve tried to see every opening night with loved ones close to me at the time. With Iron Man, it was with my brother Daniel. We both remember that day so clearly. I was in high school and he was in middle school. There was a very long line out the theater doors and we were far from the front. This was such a highly anticipated movie, I was not surprised in the slightest.

Dan was young enough at the time, and being the kids we were, we tried to jump ahead so we could snag better seats. And then the doors opened and we sprinted up the aisle. We were trying to rush to the best seats in the theater. The infamous ‘bar’ seats where you could put your feet up on the bar in front of you. There was only one row like this in the theater.

Dan makes his way in first, and I’m a bit behind him. The seats are open! But the row is filling fast. So I make a quick, gut decision to literally leap over the bar and right into the center theater seats. I throw my jacket to the left of me so a seat’s saved for Dan. Needless to say, people who sat next to us for the movie were not pleased. All in all, this memory is one my brother and I share. We recall it almost every time a new Marvel movie gets released. It’s a memory that makes me smile.

Grappling with change

Over the years, I would make every effort to see Marvel movies on opening night with my brother, and also my girlfriend at the time. We would make an event of it. As time moved on, things changed. We all got busier. My brother got a girlfriend, I went to college, and then I became single.

I used to have a saying that I would default to: “shit happens”. What a defense mechanism that one is. I always try brushing off any form of change as “shit happens”. Now, I realize it was my own way of not accepting the things that were changing.

We cannot control change. It happens to us whether we want it to or not. People change. Relationships change. Over time, everything changes.

This has always been difficult for me. It still is. Some things that change can really suck. If anyone has any advice about how to handle change in positive ways, I’d really be interested to talk with you about it. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

WandaVision and dealing with grief

Since the pandemic started, Disney has continued to release shows on their platform Disney Plus. The first Marvel show to air on Disney Plus was WandaVision. This isn’t meant to be my review of the show, but there are two scenes in WandaVision that really speak to me. The first is a flashback when Wanda is at the Avengers compound. She’s sitting on her bed watching a rerun of Malcom in the Middle when Vision phases into the room. I’ve referenced that video below.

What’s even more beautiful about this scene is the way in which it came into being. This article I found explains how the writers came up with the line “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”. It’s poetry.

Jac Schaeffer, the head writer for the show explained the purpose of the scene:

“We wanted this scene to be about Vision giving Wanda the tools she needed to move on,” Schaeffer explains. “That it was actually like seeing this scene again is actually arming herself for the finale and what she goes through in the finale. So we were like, ‘We need a definition of grief that is hopeful and that he illuminates for her, that grief isn’t all bad. That it isn’t all sorrow, that it is born of beauty. It is love.”

In many ways, like others, this scene moves me to the core. When Vision offers to listen in hopes to bring Wanda comfort, she responds that the only thing that would bring her comfort is seeing her brother again. Vision doesn’t know how to respond and Wanda apologizes. She says she’s tired.

Loss and regret

Does experiencing loss make you a loser? Of course not, but it certainly can make you feel like one. The experience of loss is variable and dynamic in so many different ways.

We lose loved ones, friends, and moments to time whether through death, priorities, or where we are in life. Some times we lose important people in our lives due to our own making.

In many ways, loss can lead to regret and depression. It can cause you to hate yourself. In the scene above, Wanda equates her emotional state to a wave washing over her again and again. When she stands up, she says it comes for her again. She thinks she’s going to drown.

I don’t think I could describe the feeling of loss, regret, and self-hatred any better than this visual of drowning. But the way Vision responds, by showing Wanda that her grief is actually love “persevering” is just beautiful.

Asking for forgiveness and moving forward

Recently, I contacted someone who I was once really close with. We grew apart years ago. I’ve tried to make amends and hope that enough time has passed. I’ve hated myself for the way our relationship ended.

Sometimes the people you think are supposed to be in your life, may not want to be in your life for reasons that are impossible for you to fully comprehend. The only option is to accept the reality of the situation. I’m not fond of the phrase ‘move on’. Everyone says that when a relationship doesn’t work out. “You’ve gotta move on”. Steve Rogers begrudgingly says this in Avengers End Game during a group session when he recalls losing Peggy Carter in ’45.

Sometimes we want things to go back to the ways they were, but they can’t. No matter how much we will them to change. People do move forward. They do.

But like Vision says, “it can’t all be sorrow, can it?”. This grief that comes from wanting others to stay with us, in our lives is really love persevering.

Persevering means “continuing in a course of action despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”. Love is difficult. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fall flat on your face.

I’ve done both, countless times. But you must try to move forward, by any means necessary. In a way, your life really does depend on it.


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