Getting ready for the When the Devil Knocks broadcast premiere 26 January, I’ve been thinking a lot about Hilary, and missing her.
When we first met four or so years ago, she was very fragile. I remember sitting in her little living room, with Hilary and her beloved partner Debbie, and having Hilary ask me if I thought she was crazy. I told her that I didn’t think she was crazy but she sure was a lot braver than me – to consider letting the world see videotape of her psychotherapy.
I actually like to occasionally remind myself of how scared and timid Hilary was because it reminds me of how very brave she was; and of how far she came in the few sweet years that I had the privilege of knowing her. In a small way, our journey together, making the documentary, mirrored Hilary’s much greater journey to become a whole person. I saw her – on the therapy tapes AND in our real life interactions – grow from a terrified child in a woman’s body into the whole, powerful, hilarious, triumphant person that was Hilary Stanton in the last woefully short years of her life.
By the time we showed the rough cut of the documentary to Hilary, prior to its film festival premiere, I was the one who was scared. Not afraid that she wouldn’t “like” the film but worried that it would hurt her to re-experience some of the painful parts of her life. She did wince a couple of times but at the end she stood up, gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you. I’m so proud to be the face of DID.”
Through her courage, Hilary has given the world a gift of understanding about this fascinating but controversial disorder. And I’m powerfully glad that, before she left us, Hilary saw that her work was done. Thinking of her often brings to mind one of my favourite quotes, from Amelia Earhart: “Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”
Here’s to you, Hilary.
– Helen Slinger