Stage of Grief
Grief is a peculiar thing.
It can leave you completely paralyzed. It can cause you to isolate yourself from those who love you. It can lead you down the road of self-destruction and addiction. It can string you along on a never-ending path of self-loathing and plummeting self-worth. And also, like in my case, it can cause you to jam it so far into the depths of your soul that you cover it up with years and years of busyness and life, and you forget about it altogether. Until that day, years later, when you stop forgetting about it.
Friday morning, I felt the quiet, gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit calling me to leave the apartment for a couple of hours. I had no idea where He was asking me to go until I knew. Minutes before walking out the door, He whispered that we were going to the Theatre District.
The first musical I ever remember being a part of was at the Methodist church I grew up in. I remember being costumed in a red smock and standing with the other red, orange, yellow, green, and blue smocked kids on the platform as we sang about Jonah and the Promises of God.
That debut led to other children’s pageants and musicals within the church. In the years leading up to high school, I participated in the school choir, church choir, and youth musicals. However, when I got to high school, I knew my life compass was aligning with my “true north”. I auditioned for flag line, wind ensemble, A Capella Choir, Madrigal Singers, our high school production of “The Music Man”, and for the vocal solo of “My Country Tis of Thee” sung in the gazebo of the town square on Memorial Day. By the end of my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to perform professionally.
In the fall of 2000, I went to community college to get my general requirements out of the way and it allowed me to sprinkle some music courses in as well. Which in turn, gave me an open door to get involved with the college choir and a few college musical theatre productions. Our choir traveled to New York City that following spring, to sing at Carnegie Hall. (And this is where my love story with the Big Apple began.)
When I got off the train at Times Square and 42nd Street, the atmosphere had a slight electric buzz to it. Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic and the crowds have suppressed, the air is still full of excitement and culture.
I climbed the stairs to the street and immediately my heart was overwhelmed. The marquees were illuminated like they normally would be on any show day. Food vendors had carts stationed on corners where the pavement and sidewalk met, the aroma of hot dogs and honey roasted cashews filled my nostrils. Street performers were scarce, and the pedestrians and tourists were even more so.
I walked up and down the blocks of West 42nd Street all the way to West 51st Street. Each step leading me to a different theatre in the Theatre District. As I passed entrances and stage doors, I took in the “Broadway shows are suspended until further notice” letters that were taped to the glass. It was quiet. And still. And the lobbies were dark.
With frozen fingertips and tears streaming down my face, I journeyed on. Each succeeding street almost the same. With each theatre, a pause in my step. Remembering the actors, production team, front of house staff, and patrons. Praying for hearts that are in the transition of pause. The in-between. The unknown.
For that small moment, my heart collided with theirs.
I stood there, in the bitter winter wind and I remembered. I remembered my time on the stage, the place where my heart came alive. I remembered my dreams of moving to NYC to pursue theatre, contributing to the musical works of grit, heart, and soul. And I also remembered the day God closed that door. I remembered how theatre became a part of my marriage and how connected it was to our story. I remembered sitting in plush velvet maroon seats and crying during musical numbers, and not caring who saw.
It is painfully beautiful to see how the Lord intertwined my relationship with New York City. The intricate way he knit my heart to another purpose here and how he stitched in the lives of my husband and my children.
And while I don’t think I will ever reach a place where there won’t be sadness wrapped around my dream of Broadway, I do know that the Lord will give equally beautiful dreams of what my new life here looks like.
Instead of a Broadway stage to share in someone else’s story, I am the stage to which my Father shares His love to the audience of New York City.