"Manchester by the Sea": You Can't Just Die

"Manchester by the Sea": You Can't Just Die

No, very few things are fixed at the very end of "Manchester by the Sea," but in its state of grief. No one has truly moved on. But in these relationships, there sure was a whole lot of hope.


If you haven't watched the movie, I would recommend not reading on because there are major spoilers.

"I don't like the fact that, nowadays, it feels like it's not permissible to leave something unresolved, I mean, what the fuck is closure? Some people never get that. Some people live with their trauma for years."

This was director Kenneth Lonergan talking about his crux of his most successful movie, "Manchester by the Sea," It is the most realistic depiction of grief I've seen in film, and it's not an easy watch by any stretch. I've cried every time I've seen the movie, and the grief shown by the main character, Lee Chandler (played by Casey Affleck), is irreparable. It is revealed in a series of flashbacks throughout the film, but the summary of them is this: he lost his two children in a house fire one night, and his marriage proceeded to fall apart.

The movie begins with a scene of the death of Lee's brother, Joe. Lee goes to a lawyer with his now-orphaned nephew, Patrick. He has to move back to Manchester, where all the brutal loss and tragedy catch up to him and is now Patrick's legal guardian. There is a scene near the end of the movie that I want this article to focus on: it is a brilliantly played scene in which Lee runs into his ex-wife, Randi, in Manchester. I've linked the scene, and implore you to watch it.

Everywhere he goes, Lee is greeted by whispers and glares from people he used to be friendly with. Downtrodden is a light word used to describe his disposition - perhaps devastated would be better. He awakes one day, having forgotten to turn the stove off, in panicked with deja vu and flashbacks to the night that changed his life. He walks around almost as a zombie.His past is such a level of devastation that he can't move on, something that Lonergan shows best in the following words:

"I don't like this lie that everybody gets over things that easily. Some people can't get over something major that's happened to them at all; why can't they have a movie too? Why can't there be one film about somebody who doesn't magically bounce back?"

The pivotal scene between Randi and Lee demonstrates this best - in both its pain and beauty. Randi says to Lee that "my heart was broken - cause it's always gonna be broken, and I know yours is broken, too." Although they both share the unbearable pain and suffering of having lost their children, Randi differentiates that Lee has it worse: "I don't have to carry it," as it was not she that left the screen door open on the fireplace on that ill-fated night.

"I love you! Maybe I shouldn't say that," Randi continues. With full control of the conversation, Randi makes many of her amends to Lee in the scene, but Lee's words are quiet and stuttered. "Please" and "thank you" are the phrases that dominate her dialogue as he desperately tries to cut her off and stop the painful talk.

Eventually, Lee tells Randi that "there's nothing there."

"You can't just die!" Randi says to him.

Even in his nothingness, Lee has found something special throughout the movie. Even when he is suffering, tormented, and feels every waking moment that he is in hell for his traumatic past, his grief overlaps with Patrick's, too. Both have lost their loved ones, and for both, their sarcastic humor are coping mechanisms for dealing. The flashbacks show clearly that Lee cares for Patrick, as he did his own children, but that the despair and haunting memories of the town of Manchester are too much for him to handle.

I found "Manchester by the Sea" to be, yes, a story of grief, but further than that, I find it to be a story of how people relate in the face of grief, and how they act among each other. The conversation between Lee and Randi, or the dynamic between Patrick and Lee are much greater and thought-provoking stories - none of the characters have closure from what happened. It seems like there may be a point they never will, but they've found something more in their brokenness: a love for one another in the face of suffering.

Terrible things happened in Lee's life, in particular, as Casey Affleck takes away the show in this movie. We empathize with him from the beginning to end. At various points of the movie, it's pretty clear that he wants to die. But he doesn't just die, and in doing so, his life went on - his story didn't end, and he was able to show and give the gifts of empathy and compassion to Patrick. No, very few things are fixed at the very end of "Manchester by the Sea," but in its state of grief. No one has truly moved on. But in these relationships, there sure was a whole lot of hope.

"It's funny, I started out trying to make a film about grief, about telling a story involving sorrow and regret. And as it went on, it occurred to me that it's a lot more about love than I'd realized," Lonergan finished.

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?


It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

1. How did I get to the gym? Didn't I walk here? That should count as exercise

2. Why am I here?

3. Are these clothes tighter than they were last time?

4. Why is every single machine full? What am I supposed to do?

5. Is everyone looking at me?

6. I can't remember where anything is here

7. Okay, I am going to set this at the easiest level

8. Can I go home yet?

9. Is 3 minutes long enough? No, darn it.

10. How many calories have I burned? Only 10 are you kidding me!

11. Why is everyone else here going so hard? I look like a slacker

12. I am so sweaty right now

13. Maybe I should get a smoothie as a reward for working out

14. I am literally dying right now. I am about to drop dead

15. Only 5 more minutes to go. I've got this!

16. I don't got this

17. Why do people come here every day?

18. Last minute I'm going to go so hard right now

19. Just kidding that two seconds was good enough. I'm going to cool down for the last 58

20. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I am done!

21. I am so tired

22. My body is so sore

23. I can't believe I have to walk home now. I've already done my exercising for the day

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