My boyfriend and I watched Forest Gump tonight. It just happened to be on TV. I've seen it so many times, but I notice different things every time I watch that movie. Forest takes life at face value, does what he thinks is right no matter what anyone says, and keeps things simple. Forest gets asked several times if he's crazy or just plain stupid. Interestingly, no one ever asks him that about his love for Jenny, even though most people who put up with years of her chaos the way he did would usually be labelled as both.
I'm not a hopeless romantic and I don't cry at movies. I don't watch "chick flicks" and think they are the cause of far too many ridiculous ideas about love and marriage. I think "love means never having to say you're sorry" is a total load of crap. No one has ever "had me at hello." I've never watched a Nicholas Sparks movie from start to finish. Too much drama. All that having been said, the way Forest loved Jenny gets to me in a major way.
She spent most of the movie being complicated, lost, messed up, and extremely self-destructive. But Forest didn't focus on those aspects of who she was. To Forest, Jenny was that little girl on the school bus who gave him a place to sit and showed him acceptance and kindness. She was wonderful and beautiful and his only love. He stayed busy playing football, serving in Nam, endorsing ping pong paddles, and getting rich off shrimp and Apple computers, but he never forgot about Jenny. When he was alone at night, he thought of her and missed her. Meanwhile, Jenny was wandering through the hippie culture and spent years numbing her pain with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. As far as I know, she had no idea there was a fleet of shrimping boats named after her. I wonder if knowing she was that special to someone would have made a difference as far as her choices.
No matter how many times she ran away, no one else ever came anywhere close to being as special to Forest as Jenny. He just saw the good in her and tried to protect her and take care of her. He didn't try and make sense of her chaos, though it clearly frustrated and confused him at times. He just adored and respected her, even when she didn't respect herself. Forest would tell her she needed to come home with him where she belonged and she would push him away and take off again. No matter how many years it had been since he'd seen her, he always thought of her and hoped she was okay and happy. Nothing could make him stop loving Jenny, not even Jenny herself. When she tells him she's sick, he immediately tells her he'll take care of her and he does, for the rest of her life.
What breaks my heart is how, all through the movie, every time Forest had Jenny, he lost her again. At the end, after she dies, when he's talking with her after talking with so many other people, and he cries and tells her how much he misses her, its just so unbelievably sad. Tonight, watching that scene, I thought, "She won't be coming back this time. Forest is going to have to live the rest of his life without Jenny. Peas without carrots." Every other time, even after years of losing touch, she always came back. Every time she did, Forest was so happy just being withher, going for walks, bringing her wild flowers, and just being near her. To him, Jenny is family. Even though he had Little Forest, I thought about how often he would think of Jenny and how sad that would make him knowing he couldn't see her again this side of heaven. I felt sure he wouldn't and couldn't love anyone else that way. There would never be another woman for Forest.
I know its a fictional movie so someone could decide that, in the next installment, Forest fell in love again, got remarried, and created a wonderful blended family. I don't think I would want to see that movie, though. It wouldn't be believeable to me. Jenny was his first, his last, his everything.
I feel sure Forest never quite understood what that dramatic sobbing and rock slinging scene was all about, but he knew enough to eventually have Jenny's childhood home bulldozed to the ground. He was with Jenny, the little girl, when she would say she was scared and didn't want to go home at night. He was with Jenny, the woman, years later when she cried and pelted that same house with rocks. He understood that whatever went on in that house was the cause of a life-time of hurt for Jenny. Counselor types such as myself could give Jenny various psychiatric diagnoses to explain why she did the things she did, including post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder, just to name a few. None of those terms would have meant much to Forest.
Of course, counselor types such as myself would have said that, in addition to his cognitive deficits, Forest was codependent and in major denial about Jenny. We would have told him to set boundaries and encouraged him to stay as far away from her as possible. We would have told him there was no hope that he would ever have a healthy relationship with Jenny and that she was detremental to his physical and emotional well-being. If friends, family, or counselors had asked Forest if he was crazy or just plain stupid when it came to loving Jenny, he probably would have told them what he told Jenny after asking her to marry him. He said, "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." Then, in that matter of fact tone that always signaled a subject change, he probably would have said, "That's all I have to say about that."