Last Wednesday I had the privilege of being a part of North Carolina’s cast of Listen to Your Mother. I found out I was cast in this in January? I think? It was somewhere around that time. I had a friend (my Mom Best Friend Forever, Jen) in last years cast and she really encouraged me to audition.
I was an actor many years ago. I have been a public speaker for as long as I can remember. 90% of the time I’m more comfortable in front of a crowd, telling a story, than I am any other time. I actively enjoy this type of thing. So, I figured, why not audition? The worst that happens is I don’t get in, I write something else, and I try again.
But, I got in.
I got cast in my local show with a story about my oldest daughter that I really loved. It was funny and spoke, at the heart, about how parenting as a disabled parent is just a little different. Not harder or incredibly difficult, just different.
And between my first rehearsal (right after MadCap) and my second, my own mother died. And I wondered for just a minute if I should do this. But, before I even got to Georgia where my family was starting the planning process and grieving, my sisters from the cast had reached out to me. They had surrounded me with love and gave me strength.
And I also knew my mom would expect me to do this.
My next rehearsal was the tech rehearsal the night before the show. I got to the theater early, hoping to ease back in. My body knew what to do. The theater had been my home for many years. My heart was (is) just barely holding together, stitched together with the thinnest threads, and I was afraid I would crumble under these stories of Mamas and our journeys.
I knew that several of the stories would be unbearable. I knew that Caroline’s brave story about the loss of her daughter at birth would pick and prick at those threads. I knew that Stephanie’s evocative story about her mother’s smoking would resonate deeply in those cracked lines, my own mother a smoker. But, it’s was Beth’s sweet story about her mother Barbara (my mom’s name) that slit all of those tiny threads holding my heart in place. I wept openly and grief poured from me as I tried to hold it in check.
The next night. I’d spent the whole day not thinking. If I don’t think much past the moment, then my brain doesn’t say things like, “Hey, let’s call Mom.” So, I did my best all day not to think. I was getting ready when a sweet friend called. She called to give me love. To tell me how proud she was that I was doing this.
And I cried. Not the ugly sobs of grief, but the tears of someone who was feeling mightily loved.
But, I did not weep during the show. Not that anyone would have cared, but it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to listen to my sisters stories and just be so proud of the work they were sharing. Of the bravery and courage I was witnessing on the stage that night.
And I wanted to kill it. I wanted to be brave in that moment. I wanted to make people laugh and relate and mostly laugh.
And I did.
All pictures courtesy of my amazing friend Jess Rotenberg. She did my amazing “foot” shot and my headshots. She is just wonderful.