With Isaac’s Angelversary (the day he became an Angel) coming up tomorrow I have had many people asking how I’m doing. I can’t even express how much this kind of support means to me, especially with being apart from Aaron. The truth is, how I respond depends so much on how I am feeling at that moment. It’s been very hard to describe the emotions I’ve felt. At times I’ve been full of gratitude, at other times I’ve been so angry. Sometimes I have felt deep sadness and such a deep void in my life. I have come to realize that there are still some things that I haven’t dealt with. Even with how open I’ve been, there are still things that I have avoided because it just hurts too much. One of those things being getting Isaac a headstone. I am not sure why, but even typing it makes my heart hurt so much that I can’t bare the thought of it. I can’t handle the thought of my baby’s name on a piece of stone to represent his dead body. For similar reasons I have rarely visited his grave. This very obvious reminder is just too hard.
Each Memorial Day my husband’s family visit their Daddy’s grave. We decided to bury Isaac next to Aaron’s daddy and so each Memorial Day, he will get visited as well. It is now my goal to give Isaac his headstone before we all go visit him in May. I had intended to have it done a long time ago, but I had no idea that I was avoiding it. Now that I have come to terms with the fact that I was avoiding it, I hope I can address the emotions that led me to avoid it in the first place, hopefully helping me find and feel some closure.
I also have some regrets for not visiting his grave more often while I have been so close and while I was going to Las Vegas frequently because of my braces. Now we’re moving to Texas and I won’t have the opportunity to visit him. That’s going to be a hard thing to come to terms with.
It’s been very interesting to see how I’ve changed over the past year and half (since I fond out about Isaac’s diagnosis). Sometimes I’ve done well and other times I haven’t. I’m sad to say that there was a good amount of time that I was just plain miserable. It been interesting to see where I am today.
Recently, I was asked to direct and choreograph the musical HONK! It’s a musical based on the story of the Ugly Duckling. I was in this musical in college, and while I felt the production was excellent, I really hated my part and experience in it. I was less than thrilled to be involved with the musical again. However, I felt very prompted to go and direct this show. As I listened to the music, it became very evident that this show was going to be very healing for me.
There are moments, lines, songs and themes of the show that just hit so close to home.
So close, that even after seeing the show several times, they still bring powerful emotions. The duckyard is so cruel to Ugly, the main character, because of his obvious differences. There is a line that mentions “sometimes, it is kinder, if some eggs never hatch”. That line gets me every.single.time. I think of my son and how so often when people learn of something “different” with their unborn children they decide to terminate the pregnancy. I want to be clear that I’m not judging, just expressing how it makes me feel. I wrote a whole blog post on abortion if you want to know more of my thoughts, but in the context of my experience and the show, that line stings.
Ugly unexpectedly finds himself lost from the duckyard and his family. He tries to find his way back, but only ends up more lost. His mother soon figures out he’s gone and leaves to search for him. The character of Ida resonates so closely with so much of what I felt.
How she defends her son, how she loves him regardless of what he looks like and how she risks everything to find him. As I watch the show, I feel she is singing the words of my heart. The song “Every Tear a Mother Cries” captures the heartache so perfectly.
“Every day seems to be
more empty than the last.
Everywhere the sun once shone
a shadow has been cast.
Every moment that your gone,
is a moment dark and grey
Every tear a mother cries,
is a dream that’s washed away”
Ugly sings a song about being different and my heart breaks for him. Even though I lost my son at birth, had he lived he would have been severely mentally handicapped. He would have been called terrible names, maybe not to his face–or even in front of me, but it still happens. I cringe every single time I hear someone called someone or something “retarded” or tease that “they must be mentally slow”. Sometimes I can’t help myself and say something–other times, I just let it go knowing the person meant no harm by it. But it hurts all the same.
Another part that resonates so accurately with me is the moments when the chorus sings. They are Ida’s friends, yet have no idea how to sympathize or support her. I debated saying this out loud–because I have felt support and sympathy from my friends. It’s still hard for everyone, even your closest friends, to carry that kind of grief everyday. Sometimes they say terribly hurtful things, perhaps trying to be helpful. At times, I felt very much like Ida, isolated, apart from my husband desperately trying to cling to any kind of hope. Again, the lyrics speak volumes as the chorus sings about Ida.
“Poor Ida has our sympathy
She looks so sad and gloomy
But looking on the brighter side, her nest is now more roomy.
We find it rather difficult to say consoling things
Tonight the ugly duckling sleeps beneath an angels wings”
One of the main themes of the musical is showing how it takes place over the course of a year. The seasons come and go until we end back up at spring again where the Ugly duckling has turned into a beautiful swan. The lyrics do a great job of subtly referencing each season. It shows the desperate nature we can feel after hoping for something for so long.
“As each season slips away, sadly there’s a trend
Common sense would seem to say
There’s no happy end”
This part has so many meanings for me. I think of the last year and my different “seasons”. I think of how I have grown and changed. I look back at myself a year ago and am amazed that somehow I got through it all.
At one point in the show, Ida collapses, assuming her son has died–frozen to death under a blanket of snow. Her grief is real and something that I so relate with. She sobs over him wondering what his little life meant? “What was it all for? What was the point of your little life?” she questions. As she weeps over the loss of her son, the mother and father swan come and comfort her. They recognize her grief and acknowledge it.
I don’t think I will ever forget desperately wanting to hold my sweet baby boy alive. I prayed, hoped, wished, wanted, dreamed and longed for that moment. When his little heart stopped before I could hold him, I felt so much like Ida–desperately clawing at the snow, exhausted from the effort it took to sustain that kind of hope. It felt pointless. What on earth was it all for.
It wasn’t until I was watching the show the other night for the millionth time that something clicked for me. I watched Ugly emerge from the snow, beautiful and perfect. No longer flawed, dressed in white. I saw my son as a resurrected being. Perfect and beautiful.
At this time, the swans ask Ugly to come with them. He is torn between staying with him mom and going with the swans. (scene was edited for this post)
Father Swan: Well, now you can come with us and learn our ways.
Ugly: And my mother? Can she come too?
Ida: Of course I can’t…..I can’t teach the ways of swan….your place is with the swans now…(to Mother Swan).Look after him for me, won’t you?
Mother Swan: Good-bye, my dear. This must be very hard for you but I promise he’ll be safe with us.
Ida: I’m sure he will (Gives Ugly a final hug), Well, go on then! Let’s see you fly!
As I watched the swan family exit the stage all in white–ready to take flight, I can’t help but see my son with our loving Heavenly Parents–promising to take care of him until I can see him again.
Ida then sings a reprise of the song Ugly sang earlier, her words echoing in my heart.
“He was different
He was different from the rest.
Of course he can’t belong with me
I know, I should have guessed
He wasn’t mine to mother
He wasn’t mine to rear,
Another dream gets washed away
Another dream, another mother’s tear. ”
The show ends on a much happier note than my story does, and I could go on and on and in more depth how this show has touched me, but I feel I have written quite enough already. I have loved being able to watch and heal as so much of my story was presented on stage.
Spring has always indicted new birth. Resurrection.I have loved spring for that exact reason. The earth literally comes alive after being put through the harshness of winter. Every season is needed and every season contributes to the growth and rebirth that happens each spring. My “seasons” have been especially rough this year and my winter especially harsh, but as I come back to where I started, I can see the person I have become. Each season has helped mold me into the person I am today. I am ready to be reborn.
If you are near the area, I truly hope you take the time to come see this production. It is a beautiful story that is beautifully told.
Just beneath the surface,
you may struggle to get by,
but nothing can deter you
If you hold your head up high.