I stood on stage, surrounded only by the blinding ray of a spotlight. All else was darkness.
I knew there were people surrounding me because I could hear the collective intake of breath and the counterpoint of sniffles and lightly held sobs. The beam of light held me as the touch of Tom surrounded me once again.
I was simultaneously back on stage as Jack’s Mom, reliving and witnessing the moment one more time.
Any last threads of self consciousness exited as I stopped hearing anything from anyone and instead heard only my own heart beat. In one sense its insistent patter surprised and delighted me and yet it also repulsed me.
If my heart stopped, would I be with Tom again? Would he finally not leave me?
I vaguely remember the blackout, the moment the light let go of me and my feet somehow took me back into the wings. I only slightly remember I found my way into Katie’s arms where I sobbed some more. I viscerally remember receiving incredible hugs from friends and even people I had never met before, speaking praise intermingled with sorrow.
I remember walking around backstage for a bit, seeing and hugging Justin, and realizing I needed to leave so that I could be to my next gig on time.
I didn’t know then how many people would stop me to speak to me about it in the coming week.
Jennifer said, “I have seen you before, but after that… now… I really, really see you…”
Julia said, “I was incredibly moved….. even though I know I have seen you perform that before… on Saturday it was just so… soooo” and she stood with me in that wordless place that says more than language can tell.
On Saturday, I listened as Rich explained the many reasons my poetry performance wove its way into his heart and soul. “I thought some one would have to pry me out of my seat,” he said. “When you finished, I literally could not move….”
It was a week later. People were still sharing their responses with me.
A week later, more poetry flowed – poetry fueled by words of kind witness and praise. There is no place I feel more loved and more secure than in words of kind witness and praise.
There is no place I feel smaller yet more alive… there is no place I feel more strength and courage to continue, then in the echoes of praise. I recall those words spoken or written from people who take the time to say something, anything, that speaks of how my art impacts their heart.