When I was small, I was in love with the Dreamer – everyone was, it seemed, since forever, her charm and wit and ability to make things fun stack up to the very definition of ‘attractive.’
She wanted to be an actress and even got onto a local TV show at age 5, singing all of the verses of My Darling Clementine. All of them. After a couple, the host tried to cut in because the segment was over, but the Dreamer kept singing, on pitch I’m told and word-perfect, and she was audible from another part of the studio even after the commercial break.
She went on to a BFA in theater, to summer stock and creating a role off-off-Broadway, as well as designing fabrics, embroidering and needlepointing freehand, working as a chef, marrying, adopting a son, trading, creating a passionate life.
After complications during surgery for a large yet benign brain tumor, she died at age 53. She had packed a good four lifetimes into little more than half the life-expectancy of women on both sides of our family.
I’ve been a tech writer-editor for a long time, and people have always said, “You’re such a good writer, why don’t you write stories or plays or something?” The truth is, I had nothing much of my own to say.
On the sixth anniversary of the Dreamer’s death – after I’d recently turned the last age she had attained – something happened. To call it ‘something’ is to praise it with faint damnation, it was energizing, inceptive, miraculous.
Since that day just a few years ago, I’ve written more than twenty plays, musicals, and operas. I firmly believe that I didn’t do it alone. Yes, theater is the ultimate team sport, and anything achieved in this medium is by its nature not solitary, but I think you know that’s not what I’m talking about.
The gift I received is a new awareness, a trust, an additional piece of mind that simply didn’t exist on the before side of my life’s equation.
I’m on a funny cusp between gratitude and desolation. I’d rather have the Dreamer than this mid-life gift.
Perhaps, tho, I have both.
©2012 all rights reserved
Photo: John Stuehr