Colorado Baymax

A letter about Big Hero 6

On January 11, 2015, I went to go see Big Hero 6 for the first time in theaters.

It was my brother Ben's birthday, who had passed away in June 2009. I was feeling down obviously, so I though "how about I go see that new Disney superhero movie to cheer me up?" I was not prepared for how much this movie would effect me.

There was a lot I could relate to with Hiro and Tadashi. Ben was my big brother. He always wore a baseball cap like Tadashi. Even down to Ben going to an engineering college, and me wanting to go to that same school mostly because of all the amazing things he said about it. It was so real.

I'm kind of glad I saw it so late in its theater run. There were only two families in the theater with me, and I was just sitting by myself while crying my heart out sipping on an ICEE. Already being effected heavily that day by remembering Ben, the loss of Tadashi hit me hard.

Big Hero 6 then did something that I hadn't seen in a Disney movie before: it didn't time jump over the grief, it kept showing it. It was like I was reliving those weeks after Ben's passing. The not feeling hungry, the debating about putting off college... it was all so real. I was an emotional mess. This movie took me back to literally the worst time in my life and kept shoving more of those bad memories at me.

And then Baymax shows up. And he makes me laugh. Almost instantly I was cheered up after being dragged through all of that grief, all of those bad memories, all of that loss.

I thought that was the end of showing Hiro's grief but it kept coming back little by little. It was still so real, and so painful, but I had Baymax to pick me up again and make me laugh just when the emotions started flooding back.

When Baymax is showing Hiro the videos of Tadashi, I was again brought back to all the goofy videos we have of Ben. It was like I was watching my own brother, and crying right along with Hiro.

After the movie was over I sat in my car for a good 10 minutes. I was still in a bit of shock at the movie I had just watched. But I was okay. I wasn't crying, I was okay. As I drove to my parents' house that afternoon, I was okay. I was okay for the entire rest of the day. And the next day.

When the anniversary of Ben's passing came that year, I sat down with a Baymax plush and the movie. I cried my heart out again, but then Baymax made me laugh. I was okay. I was going to be okay.

It's now been over 10 years since my family lost Ben. I carry a bit of Ben's ashes around with me in a custom Baymax urn pendant. The grief doesn't show itself that often anymore, but when it does I put on Big Hero 6, I cry the grief away, and I laugh again... and I know I'm going to be okay.

My brother, Ben

Sibling loss isn't something that is given a lot of focus. I remember my mom bringing home a lot of brochures and DVDs about loss from her work at the Children's Hospital, and there were only 3 items that were for siblings. The rest were for parents and grandparents. We only found one organization online that helped with sibling loss... just one single hour chatroom a week. At Ben's memorial service, my parents were told "we're sorry for your loss" while my siblings and I were told "stay strong for your parents". I was so numb at the time to everything that I didn't quite realize it.

A few weeks later, I remember a phone call from a family friend asking how my parents were (who were out at the time). I gave a bland reply as we got so many calls about it and I was mentally exhausted, and hung up. The family friend called back almost instantly and said “I am so sorry! I asked how your parents were, but I didn't ask how you were!” I was in a shock. I suddenly realized all those calls, all those letters... only a small portion realized that siblings are going through a hard loss too. While my parents were there for Ben's whole life, Ben was there for my whole life. It was a constant that was gone. I know no one meant any harm by it of course, but it was eye opening to me understanding how little focus there is put on sibling loss.

No loss is good. No loss is easy. Every experiences the grief differently, and at different levels of magnitude. But it always gives comfort having something you can relate to.

This is why Big Hero 6 means so much to me. It gave me a character I could very personally relate to. It reminded me how I got through the grief. It reminded me how to be okay. I can't thank Baymax enough for bringing me joy when I need it the most. Nothing has helped me get through the loss of Ben more than Big Hero 6.