Our father calls us “romantics”. You and I, brother, are romantics born from romantics, so let him call us what he will. Tonight, I echoed my earlier steps back into a theatre to sit myself down in front of the story that has been in my heart, as well as in yours, since we were but pint size dreamers. Oh, how this story strikes me in the deep, furthest depths of my soul. It has followed me my whole life, you see. Swung around me like this breeze of unseen music that only I could hear, and as I grew I sang every word at one time or another like they were my own words, born from the need to grieve or rally and fight, learn of love and generosity or to simply survive whatever it was at the time I needed to survive. The beauty of it all being that, all the while you were in the bedroom across the hall singing out the same lyrics, possibly trying to come to grips with and survive what was encompassing your world at the same time. We both at once, loved and mended wounds with this story and in doing so bonded ourselves to one another forever. I think back on it all now with such astonishment that one single thing, a silly thing like a musical could become so much a part of me, of who I am on the deepest levels … let me share with you some of that, now.

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I want to tell you how I’ve played each role with heartbreaking accuracy at one time or another in my life, but to do that would mean stripping all my secrets away and standing in front you ultimately weaponless and vulnerable. But, I have walked in the shoes of many characters, whether I was suffering or blossoming. To this day when I hear Eponine sing “On My Own”, I am immediately pulled back into the body of my six-year-old self who just lost her Granddad, and how singing along with Eponine was her only means to express that profound pain and grieve his death. Flash forward to my mindset on my wedding day, how I walked down the aisle casting my eyes from dad, on to you and then to my future husband with the words to “A Heart Full of Love” just behind my eyes and positively reverberating within my heart. Even now, after becoming a mother … how I’ve come to internalize the plight of characters like Fantine and Valjean is undeniable. All of these are insights into me that leave me open and vulnerable to the world, but at the same time leave me feeling blessed that I feel them at all.

Blessed … listen to me, will you? I used the word “blessed” just there. What that is supposed to tell you, brother, is that you and I are no more different now than we were twenty years ago. You pray? I pray, you know. (Here it is now, vulnerable, vulnerable … ) I must pray because there have been moments of extreme pain, turmoil, angst, passion and happiness in my life where I have found myself talking, eyes closed and hands clasped tight. Talking to someone who knew me and would listen … isn’t that God? We may come to heated arguments over this subject now in our older years but that isn’t because I am the spiritless, turned her back on spirituality girl you think I am. We just have different ways of having and honouring a “belief” in our lives. I cannot sit here and tell you I am an atheist and that I am unaffected every time I hear, “To love another person, is to see the face of God,” because it would be tragically untrue. That lyric brings me to my knees emotionally, because I cannot will it to not sound like the only bit of truth I have ever heard. My heart tells me there is something, a spirit, a force, God … whatever you want to label it, out there in this universe of ours. There has to be, how else can you explain … the creation and birth of a child or the writing of powerful, inspired prose? Prose that entirely affect and nurture, say, a little boy and turn him into the most gentle, kind and compassionate man. I look at you dear brother and sometimes I see divinity in you… a little light that shines.

I sing to your nephew as he falls asleep every night. I whisper the words that harbor in our bonded souls in the hopes that whatever is instilled in us can be bestowed upon him. In Jonah I see you so clearly. He has your gentle spirit about him and I cannot deny that when I look at him I think to myself how he somehow lives as you reborn. I sing to him softly and my mind wanders and I begin to feel like I am singing to you. How I wish you could turn back time … I give anything to relive some days with you by my side. But, that is not this life. What I can promise you is that I will be there. One day sitting next to you, my hand in yours, experiencing maybe for the last time, the very thing that has made our lives. And, I am honoured that you asked me to be there … with you, on that day my very heart will take flight.