Up to Heaven [Akin]

images.ocregister.com/newsimages/community/huntingtonbeach/2009/04/colby_med.jpg SDG here with a heart-rending yet uplifting real-life story about life imitating art in a beautiful act of kindness from Pixar, makers of Up.

HUNTINGTON BEACH – Colby Curtin, a 10-year-old with a rare form of cancer, was staying alive for one thing – a movie.

From the minute Colby saw the previews to the Disney-Pixar movie Up, she was desperate to see it. Colby had been diagnosed with vascular cancer about three years ago, said her mother, Lisa Curtin, and at the beginning of this month it became apparent that she would die soon and was too ill to be moved to a theater to see the film.

After a family friend made frantic calls to Pixar to help grant Colby her dying wish, Pixar came to the rescue.

The company flew an employee with a DVD of Up, which is only in theaters, to the Curtins’ Huntington Beach home on June 10 for a private viewing of the movie.Colby died only seven hours after experiencing Up.

Up’s story of bereavement and hoped-for adventures that would never be must have had shattering poignancy to that dying girl and her family. The story reports that Colby’s mother later said she had no idea how close the film would hit to home: “I just know that word ‘Up’ and all of the balloons and I swear to you, for me it meant that (Colby) was going to go up. Up to heaven.” (Colby’s funeral was held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.)

The overlap of the film’s themes and Colby’s circumstances was especially brought home by one of the bits of Up memorabilia the Pixar employee brought to the family: an “Adventure Book” much like the one Ellie leaves Carl with, with its blank pages. “I’ll have to fill those adventures in for her,” Colby’s mom said. (Another point of contact: Colby’s parents are divorced, like Russell’s parents. But where Russell’s dad seems to have dropped out of his son’s life, Colby’s dad came to the house after the screening and was with his daughter when she died.)

A family friend reported that the Pixar employee "couldn’t have been nicer … His eyes were just welled up.”

A heartbreaking detail: A few days earlier, Colby’s mother had asked a hospice company to bring a wheelchair so that Colby could see the film in the theater. But the wheelchair never arrived, and Colby quickly became too sick to get out to a theater, necessitating Pixar’s supererogatory intervention. (By the time the movie came to Colby, she was in too much pain to open her eyes and look at it, so her mother gave her scene-by-scene commentary. She did, however, respond to a query about whether she enjoyed the film by nodding her head yes.)

By the way: “Pixar officials declined to comment on the story or name the employees involved.” Beyond class. That’s all I can say.



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