Everything is all right

For 12 years, I’ve avoided listening to this song. In fact, I was so terrified to hear it, that I avoided the play altogether, the only musical that I probably could have gotten my husband to go see with me in the eight years we’ve been together.

This song is one of my absolute favorites because someone very special sang it to me when I needed cheering up my freshman year of high school. I walked into the drama room crying about something (probably a stupid boy), and she and long-haired, drama-god-wannabe sat with me on the floor and proceeded to serenade me with this song. Ever since that day, I listened to it – either on my worn-out audio cassette or in my mind – whenever I was in need of comfort. That is, until she died.

Though I can’t articulate the reason, it just hurt too much to listen to this song after she was gone. In fact, I avoided watching or listening to any of the musicals she was in, maybe partly because I was afraid doing so would erase the memories of her performances, which I try so hard to keep alive in my mind. A few years ago, I was invited by a mutual friend to see a play that I had directed her in during summer stock. I didn’t think I could go. I was terrified that I would no longer be able to remember how she played the part. Even more so, I was afraid that I would lose it in the middle of the theater. But I knew it was important that I go for our mutual friend, and so I did. Through watery eyes, I watched the performance, and the memories I had of her in that role suddenly became more vivid. Surprisingly, I left the theater feeling a bit more whole than when I had walked into it.

As I read everyone’s tributes to her on Facebook today, the anniversary of her passing, I was suddenly reminded of this poem:

He is Gone  

You can shed tears that he is gone,  

Or you can smile because he lived,  

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,  

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left. 

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him  

Or you can be full of the love that you shared,  

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,  

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. 

You can remember him and only that he is gone  

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,  

You can cry and close your mind be empty and turn your back,                                                                       

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.                                                             

~David Harkins    

I scrolled to the never-before-played Jesus Christ Superstar playlist and double-clicked on the song. My heart pounded as I heard the first few bars. In a matter of seconds, I was transported back to the drama room, and I felt a familiar comfort that I had been depriving myself of for over a decade. I turned my computer up as loud as it could go, letting the sweet sound fill the room, the sweet memories fill my heart. In those three minutes, as my heart healed a tiny bit more, I let myself remember the feeling of her reassuring me that everything is all right.

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4 thoughts on “Everything is all right

  1. wow-i'm so glad that you blogged this cheryl. i too have this emotion i have been hiding and while i take my little break at work, i find myself wiping away the tears of the happy moments i will never forget about my grandfather, about the anger that has just built up in me for the way some family members behaved and the sadness i held onto-and everything will be ok, it is ok-because that is what he always told me. i'm sure he would be upset to see that i've held on to the denial for so long.

    i find it so difficult to express this because he lived in PR and in the front my brain my fantasy-he was still there waiting for me to visit, when the reality was covered and hid in the back.
    thank you for sharing this as i know it must have been difficult-but my heart began the mend-i felt it as i read and cried and while i write as it did for you to hear the song.

    my grandfather was amazing and i was blessed to have had sean meet him 2 yrs ago-we had the best time and that i will never forget.

    i love you my friend.

    sarabeth

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  2. Oh, Cheryl. You just made me cry. I've never read that poem before, but it is now a new favorite.

    My song that I avoided for too many years is Alive (Pearl Jam). Too many memories of singing it at the top of our lungs, of it playing in the background, of its message. When I finally played it, the tears flowed and my heart felt fuller.

    It's a wonderful feeling. I know you'll treasure it. I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. I pray you feel closer to her today.

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  3. I will never live another April Fool's Day without remembering my mother standing in front of me telling me she was gone. I will never forget the moment I thought, “If this is an April Fool's joke, this is a really bad one.” No joking. I can't believe how long it's been.

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