Last night, Sadie was Miranda in The Tempest. There were five Mirandas, all equally Miranda-like and filled with wonder.
Sadie's got a thing for Shakespeare, and since she was little she has loved to hold my Riverside Shakespeare in her lap. This was the first play that she has gotten to do, really truly, in front of an audience.
She knew her lines weeks ago. She's chanted them around the living room so many times that Rosie knows them too. The night before last, she just couldn't fall asleep. She wasn't nervous--she just couldn't wait.
I was Miranda too, once. It was just a few years before Sadie came to be. Over the last weeks, Sadie has been drilling me on the similarities. What was your costume like? (blue and silky and Indonesian) Did you have to kiss Ferdinand? (Yes, and it didn't go so well) Do you remember this line? (Only because you've been repeating it all day)
Honestly, I have loved this connection over the play. That Riverside Shakespeare is one of the most important books in my life, and I am happy to share it with her. It is so heavy, after all.
Last night, I had a selectboard meeting. It was important, and worthwhile, and we were dealing with issues that will make a difference. I had to be there.
Standing in the back of the classroom while the kids gestured and spoke out and swayed in imaginary storms, I watched the clock. I knew that I would miss the end of the play, but I was hopeful that I would get to see Sadie in her big scene. In the end, I ran out of the school five minutes before her scene, trying not to cry as I hopped into the car, and I sped to my meeting.
I missed her first school play. After staying home with her for years and being there for everything, I missed her 8 lines as Miranda.
I left my camera with Joey and I made him swear to photograph every moment. When I got home, I looked at these pictures, and I heard the lines in my head, and I gave Sadie a really big squeeze. She asked if I had seen any of her scene, and I was honest with her. A flash passed through her face, and I pulled her onto my lap and asked her to tell me about every moment. She was okay. She had had just the night she was dreaming of.
I feel ridiculous thinking about Sadie in therapy in 20 years, but I have to admit that I think of it. "My mom missed my first school play!" she'll say, and the therapist will shake her head in disbelief. "She was always so busy- there was the town, and her writing, and her cooking. She was always shooing me out of the kitchen! No wonder I hate to cook."
The side of myself that creates these conversations is not my best. With my rational side, the one that thinks anxiety and guilt is a waste of time and energy, I know that she will be okay. I know that she is her own little self, and that I do my best to keep her safe, feed her well, and give her a lap to sit on. I know that I am not so powerful that one missed play will make a future wreck of her. After all, there are so many people who love her, and I am just one among them. Last night, Rosie was sitting in the front row, mouthing her lines and cheering her on. Joey was in the back, beaming and photographing every moment. Grandma was there, and Auntie Maia. And there were all of her friends, onstage and off, calming each other's stage fright and high-fiving after each scene. A lot of people were loving her through those eight lines.
But next time, nothing can keep me away.