“The thing that matters is never the thing itself, but rather, what we make of it. What we do with our patience, and our imagination. What we allow to thrive. Nothing is ever beyond repair. We break, we bleed, and we begin again. Trust can be mended. Love can be restored. New shoots can flourish, among the broken stones.” (Jennifer, Call The Midwife)
I started buying tickets to Broadway shows in Richmond. It all started when I needed “a day” to escape. I was in the Hot Yoga Richmond parking lot, getting ready to go in, when I clicked “purchase” on one ticket for the 2:00 show of Wicked. Sense then, I’ve included my youngest to make it a mother/daughter connection. We saw Mean Girls, and more recently, with the help of my friend Sandy, saw Dear Evan Hansen.
I remember a Christmas, pre-COVID, that Valentina loved the music and the play. We purchased gift items for her. A friend at work, Tracy, also let us know that she would love it. Their family loves music and plays just as much as us. I never really understood the play until I was there, watching it, and melting into the storyline of the script. It’s too complicated to write out the script here, but just know it’s about teenagers, in high school, struggling to belong, suicide, brokenness, and messy healing. Evan is so afraid that people will not accept him in his brokenness so he fabricates a fantasy world to promote a person he would like to be and the world would accept.
If you’ve ever been to The Altria in Richmond, you know that you are going to snuggle with your neighbor. Seats are small and close. Valentina and I leaned into each other the entire play. On the way to the play, I had her attention, so we talked about two losses that week. Young, tragic, her church buddies. She remembered outings, church plays, music, and growing up with them. My sweet girl loves big. She knows that life is hard and broken pieces are scattered and felt. Her struggles and road to healing is something we recognize and cling to as the sacred, the suffering, the sacrifice.
We both were stunned. Those moments in a movie that they show you how everyone fades into the background and it’s just you with your loved one. That happened. One of the last songs was a conversation between Evan and his mom. Evan’s fantasy world blew up and she was there to help him pick up the pieces. The reckoning, the pause, and the culminating moment for his healing and hers was there for us to take, too. Without words, we moved into the moment, listening, understanding, holding each other, and weeping. I mean we sobbed. I laid my head on her shoulder and felt the tears from her face soaked into the Evan Hansen sweatshirt we bought during intermission. Both of us acknowledging without words the journey home to this moment.
Afterwards, we processed not only in the car home, but also with her dad when we got home. I gave space for her to talk and tried not to interrupt. That’s hard for a mom. She recognized the symbolism with her journey, and noted things that I never knew she could speak. Good things that showed her maturity and all the work she’s doing is moving her forward. We talked about expectations in moments of hurt, grace, and forgiveness. The same message in the song below. We completed the night with a group hug.
The love of a woman is so big, even when we feel so small. We love beyond our comprehension. Fiercely, sometimes violently…
“Your mom isn’t going anywhere. Your mom is staying right here. No matter what, I’ll be here. When it all feels so big until it all feels so small.”
Oh, sweet, precious Valentina Parish Hebb. Here we are. Our story. Your story. And, please remember, “I will always be here for you.”