Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And You Wonder What If

Confession: I'm a stand at the stage door and wait for her to come out to sign my ticket and then be so sad when she doesn't because I love her that much kind of groupie. If this were the 70's, I'd be piled in a van, following her around the country and neglecting all my earthly responsibilities.

I don't really know how this happened.

Except to say that I guess I've been this way since 1999. I just had a lot less access back then. In 1999, the best I could do was search for sound bytes or print interviews.

And I loved her.

I've followed her career. What used to be almost entirely on the east coast has exploded into EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK thanks to a little Disney movie called Frozen.

This is how I have come to see Idina Menzel live three times since the summer.

On Saturday, I found myself in the front row of the Civic Theatre watching her perform in a show that has come to mean a great deal to me. It didn't receive rave reviews during its year long run on Broadway. It has some subject matter that I don't endorse but it's themes of starting over, of grief, of paths taken and paths ignored, of choosing and watching everything change, have breathed Broadway life into me this past year.

I've pulled from a lot of places to get me through the downs of the last twelve months. My faith, first and foremost. Worship songs. My husband and family and friends. Ice cream. Broadway. So when I found out that she'd be touring with the first seven cities, it was kind of all I wanted for Christmas.

Get me to a city that she'll be in. Of course, tickets and lodging and airfare and a rental car greatly exceed any Christmas budget we have. I decided San Diego was the only logical city. I'd eliminate lodging and the rental car by mooching off my parents. I texted my friend, who I knew had season tickets and asked which performance her tickets were for so that I could buy mine for the same day. I might as well get to say hey to a friend during intermission.

And the long story short is that she had an extra front row ticket that she refused to take any money for. That is how I came to watch Idina Menzel performing a role that has (not to sound too dramatic) changed my life. In THE FRONT ROW. All for the price of a plane ticket.

I really cannot describe it. To watch a show that has been, somehow, instrumental in my grieving and moving forward, from a place close enough to see the tears running down the actress's face as she connected to the subject matter through her own place of loss, was a priceless experience for me.

I'd always focused on the songs of grief and sadness and used them as a cathartic jumping off point for healing. I'd listened less to the songs about letting go and moving on and being brave because I didn't feel ready to let go or move on or be brave. In those moments though, it was as if, somehow, the performer I've adored for 16 years was telling me that it was okay to move forward not knowing and to be bold even when we're afraid of all the millions of ways it can end badly.

I do not know what the future holds for us. I continue to appreciate your prayers. I believe that God can and will bring another to child to us--if that is His plan. Sitting here though, in this moment, I'm not sure it matters to me. It's been a year of grieving while being told that people are looking at our family, considering us, thinking about choosing us. It's been a year of possibilities and a year of hopes raised and broken. But it has not been a bad year. Because in this year, we have loved tremendously. We have counted our blessings. I refuse to get so wrapped up in waiting for another blessing that I forget the ones that are two feet in front of my face every day.

This is what art can do for a person. It can remind us of what we already know to be true. We just have to know that we'll always wonder what if. We have to trust that we're doing the best we can with what we chose. Or what chose us.

You stop and say hey to a stranger
And where will it lead, who can know
But you learn how to love the not knowing
So here I go

Here I go
Here I go

You choose and then everything changes
Take a breath and then fly off the cliff
And you know that there's no turning back
No turning back
No turning back

And you wonder what if?
What if?

Thank you, Jenni, for the incredible gift. You cannot ever know what it meant to me as a once upon a time performer, as a fan, as a grieving mom, but, most importantly, as a girl who's trying to figure her life out. You are, truly, the best. Thank you for sharing the experience with me.

Thank you Kelli, for your support this year, for joining us in the front row, and for always seeming to accept me for whoever I am, wherever I am. My life is infinitely richer because you are in it.

Lastly, thank you, Idina, who will never, ever read this but who deserves acknowledgement nevertheless. Your portrayal of Elizabeth has moved me in ways I could never begin to explain. Thank you for pouring yourself into her. 

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