(Spoilers for the movie below, but not the book)
The Last Day of Regret is now available. I read a blog recently that discussed the timing of launching a book. It more or less said that if possible, connecting your book to something timely in our culture will help sell it. In the process of writing this book, a year ago this time, my superintendent at the private christian school I work at gave me a date. He said in April of 2018, “If you plan on writing your book and publishing it, I would like it by May 2, 2019.” I had my endgame, I needed to have a physical book in the hands of 150+ staff at our end of the year teacher appreciation luncheon for the 2018/2019 school year.
Everything I’ve done, all the decisions I have made, all the money my family has invested, all the time I gave and my editor and publisher gave, came down to this due date.
Fast forward to today, I’ve spent a year trying to hit this target using an industry that is a moving target. Could I get my book self published, printed and delivered to the school before May 2? Yes, that happened five days ago. A book I imagined five and a half years ago finally made its way into the hands of people I trust and now will be placed in the hands of the world and I feel vulnerable. I’ve opened my heart to judgement and ridicule but what I pray for is understanding and healing.
What does my book have to do with Avengers: Endgame? Everything, I watched the movie two Saturdays ago and in the middle of the movie I had my moment. The event to connect my book to is a movie that is about how to deal with death.
(Spoilers below, character names are removed accept the ending quote)
We all knew that someone or some characters had to die or sacrifice themselves. We knew at the end of Infinity War that Thanos’ snap had to be undone in some way. We just didn’t know how. What was unexpected though was that the first third of the movie was about the ramifications of losing loved ones. Not just in the immediate aftermath of the snap heard round the universe, but twenty three days after and then five years later.
The purpose of this was so that we could feel the weight of the loss our protagonists felt. Some lost their family, all lost friends and only one was positioned to live life normally. He secluded himself from the group to protect the family that managed to survive the apocalypse. He dealt with tragedy by protecting his own.
Another character stayed at head quarters to try and keep a sense of purpose to the original goal of the Avengers. To watch over the world and look for signs of life or trouble. Even thought there was nothing left to really protect, this character held onto routine to get through the pain.
Another character, the one who lost his family, went on a killing spree taking out any and every gang or mafia he could find. He was dealing with death by seeking vengeance. If his family was dead then the evil in the world was going to feel his revenge.
We had another character who was most equipped with handling loss because he lost 70 years of his life being frozen in time. He lost everyone already and had been coping with acceptance throughout this series. In this movie he was coping by hosting grief recovery groups. He was doing his part by walking with other people in their pain.
One character moved on, made a life for himself, and played the hero. He finally embraced his two sides and found peace. He accepted his new reality after tragedy.
One isolated himself, abdicated his responsibility and drank himself through the day. He gained a significant amount of weight and dealt with pain by ignoring that anything happened. This person ran away from his problems.
Then comes the twist, there is a chance they can bring everyone that disappeared from the snap back, but the one catch was that the character who still had his family wanted to make sure nothing changed during the five year gap. He had a daughter who was born in that five years and he didn’t want to lose what he had gained.
The other big cost was who would need to make a sacrifice. The heroes didn’t know that someone would have to die to get the soul stone. That scene was tragic but the one who chose to make the sacrifice saved the one who lost his family and hoped he could find them again. This sacrifice, juxtaposed to Infinity War, was chosen and freely given. This person was looking for their purpose and found it in that moment.
Finally it all came back to the one option that was predicted in Infinity War. It was supposedly one in 14 million possible scenarios. The character who survived the aftermath of the snap, with a wife and five year old child, realized what he needed to do. He had to take the weight of the repercussions of handling a power he could not control. But he did it, he did the impossible, sacrificed himself so that Thanos and his army were the ones that vanished. The man who hadn’t lost anything, in fact gave up everything for everyone else. “Whatever it takes,” was the mantra.
The connection between the movie and my book is this: we all respond to death in different ways but the only place we can go is to a place of acceptance. Even if we could go back and change time, you still have to accept death, no matter how untimely it might be. Those who die, want you to live a better life. Those who survive need to live in a way that honors those who have died.
Thank you Marvel for reminding me my part in this story. I’m a survivor and my sister would want me to be better without her not worse because she is gone.
Here is the final quote from our fallen hero we have grown to love and see him move from self absorbed to laying down his life. Here is what is said in a recording to his wife and daughter.
Quote from Avengers: Endgame
“Everybody wants a happy ending, right? But it doesn’t always roll that way. Maybe this time. I’m hoping if you play this back, it’s in celebration. I hope families are reunited, I hope we get it back, and something like a normal version of the planet has been restored. If there ever was such a thing. God, what a world. Universe, now. If you told me ten years ago that we weren’t alone, let alone, you know, to this extent, I mean, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But come on, you know? That epic forces of darkness and light that have come into play. And, for better or worse, that’s the reality Morgan’s going to have to find a way to grow up in. So I found the time and I recorded a little greeting, in the case of an untimely death. On my part. I mean, not that, death at any time isn’t untimely. This time travel thing that we’re going to try and pull off tomorrow, it’s got me scratching my head about the survivability of it. Then again, that’s the hero gig. Part of the journey is the end. I’ve made this journey before. Everything’s going to work out exactly the way it’s supposed to. I love you three thousand.” Tony Stark (To his daughter)
Six things I learned about death and grief from Tony Stark:
- We all wish for a happily ever after, but not all get one.
- There is a reality we have to accept, that there is pain and suffering because evil people do evil things. We have to teach our children how to grow up in this harsh truth.
- Death is never timely.
- Part of the journey is the end…death is inevitable.
- Everything’s going to work out exactly the way it’s supposed to…try everything and at the end of the day once you have exhausted all resources know that you cannot control what is not in your control.
- Tell those you love, that you love them and tell them often because you don’t know when your last day is.
Thank you Stan Lee for your art!
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz
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