WILD–A mother daughter love story for all time

December 23, 2014

I saw the movie WILD last week, and I can’t get the darned thing out of my head.WILD Reese Looking Up Better

I hadn’t read the memoir by Cheryl Strayed and had no idea what to expect, other than her mother dies and Strayed hikes the Pacific Crest Trail.

WILD Reese and StrayedReese Witherspoon is magnificent as the twenty-something Strayed. She is so convincing in the part that I came away almost believing the movie is her biography. On the other hand, I’m acutely aware that this story, told with brutal, heart wrenching honesty, is indeed about Cheryl Strayed.

As I finished the words “told with brutal, heart wrenching honesty” just now, tears sprang to my eyes. That’s how it is. I can’t begin to talk about this movie without crying (just ask my patient husband, who listens daily as I try to make sense of why this story seems have taken residence in my psyche).

I watched Witherspoon and her mother on 60 Minutes recently. They both said that Cheryl Strayed’s story is Reese’s mother’s story. In the interview, Witherspoon recalls that her grandmother died young and that as a child, she watched her own mother’s grief over the loss.

WILD Laura DernI could say that this is my story as well, which is crazy. My mother didn’t die young. And I’m still alive, although my daughter isn’t. I am not Laura Dern’s beautifully rendered character and my daughter Crista isn’t Witherspoon’s Strayed.

One reason for my deep resonance with a tale that doesn’t reflect my own may be this. There may be a magical, mystical thread, like gossamer, that wends its way through the hearts of all mothers and daughters, a thread that cannot be broken, a thread that reaches through ancient times into infinity. In this way, we’re all united—facets of love, parts of the whole. We can’t help but relate with one another. Maybe that’s what’s happening to me.

I am so grateful to Cheryl Strayed for having the courage to tell the unvarnished truth about this portion of her life, and to Reese Witherspoon for her integrity in bringing Strayed’s story to the screen. I can’t help but believe that WILD will continue to affect me deeply for years to come.



3 Responses to WILD–A mother daughter love story for all time

  • Thank you, Jo. I was so moved by this post. You are right that a thread connects us. I’m very sorry your daughter died so young. Wishing you peace and light in the new year.

  • Dear Cheryl,
    I am honored that you read my piece and that it touched you. Truly honored. Thank you for taking the time to let me know you understand what I tried to say. Your comments mean the world to me.

  • This is a beautiful, heartfelt post, Jo. This is a movie I already wanted to see, but now it is way up on my list. Thanks for sharing this.

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