September 29, 2014

“If I Stay” … life choices

A frivolous TV commercial about a blind taste test of pasta sauces came to mind when I watched “If I Stay.” The woman in the commercial reflects on her choice of sauce and wonders how many other wrong choices she’s made in her life. That’s what this movie is about: choice.
It’s a coming-of-age film but with a lot of tragedy and drama thrown in. It’s based on the best-selling novel by Gayle Forman who was also a writer and producer on the film.

High school sweethearts Jamie and Mia are struggling with decisions about their futures. Will they follow their bliss together or go separate ways? Some of my life decisions flashed through my memory: career, jobs, moves, relationships.

And then the ultimate tragedy; a car accident and Mia’s an orphan in a coma. The operating room nurse whispers to her that it’s up to her if she wants to live. All of this is being observed by Mia who is having quite the out-of-body experience. She’s reliving memories as well as watching the steady stream of friends and loved ones visiting her in the ICU. Family and friends are always encouraged to talk out loud to unconscious patients. The evidence is overwhelming they hear us.

That evoked memories of my chaplain training in the ICUs of an Austin, Texas hospital. So when I saw the social worker character doing all the updating on the condition I kept asking myself, where’s the chaplain? A brief scene later on showed a man in a collar talking with the grandmother but that was it. 

This story is about what it means to be a friend, a family, a significant other, how to overcome self and what should be the priorities in a life. It did fairly well at the box office after its August 22 release and I recommend it to just about everyone. If your family has suffered a catastrophic accident and you’ve endured hours of ICU waiting rooms, you might want to take a pass.

“If I Stay” has moved into the second-run theaters in my town. If you missed it, the DVD release date is November 18.

--Dan Webster

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