The final moments played out on the screen. Jack Frost smiled at his new companions, and his voice wrapped up the film. Finally, he said it. “Believe”. And I applauded. I have never applauded in a movie theater before that point, but this movie was everything I wanted. It was moving, funny, whimsical, and gorgeous. So I led the auditorium in applause. And then it happened. My smile fell as those words lit up the screen.
"For Mary Katherine Joyce A Guardian Fierce and True".
Immediately I felt a ball in my throat. No, I’ve never met Mary Katherine. But I’ve heard about her. William Joyce’s oldest daughter was a happy, normal girl. She was smart and nice. She passed away May 2nd, 2010 of a brain tumor. After such a lighthearted movie, I was launched back into reality, and I remembered the story my friend Anna-Leigh told me about how the Guardians of Childhood series began: with Mary Katherine accidentally knocking out her younger brother Jack’s tooth (or vice versa) while they were playing and with her simple question. “Do Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy know each other?” she asked. and now a lot of people truly believe that they do. Because of one little girl who probably didn’t wants the tooth fairy to tell Santa Claus that she deserved to be on the Naughty List.
You might be wondering why I even took the time to write this, seeing as I’ve never actually met Mary Katherine, but it’s because it just puts things in perspective. As a resident of Shreveport, I know that William Joyce is a person. You can drive past his house, you can see him buying groceries, you can walk up to him and say “hi”. And I have met him. Even though I made a total doofus of myself, he smiled and shook my hand. He seemed so happy just to meet a new person.
Sometimes we forget that celebrities are people. Living near one can alter that vision. For example, it would be difficult for me to think of Orlando Bloom of Anne Hathaway the same way I think of Mr. Joyce because they seem so far away, and therefor so are their tragedies. But his tragedies are right here. And you can see him coping. Ever since her death, William Joyce has been hiding Mary Katherine in his works as a sort of Easter Egg. Some are more obvious (Mary Katherine is the name of the main character in the upcoming movie “Epic”) and some are a bit more subtle (The previous librarian in “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore). And it hurts. It hurts because you see this man’s pain and you want to comfort him. Anyone who lives farther away would brush it aside because they feel like they couldn’t comfort this famous man, but locals know and love him and we feel his pain and know that he’s right around the corner.
So as the credits played, a hush fell over the auditorium. I stopped clapping. And even though it was only one or two tears, I cried. I cried for the girl who couldn’t live to see what she had started, and for the father who lost a daughter.