Thursday, August 23, 2012

For Good

This summer has been unusually musical for us...well for me at least.  I have been immersed in the kindness of friends with artistic connections, and as a result I have seen more than my fair share of plays and concerts.  I say for me because I have, for the most part, charitably spared Jordan from the agony of attending the theater.

The first year Jordan and I were married I was finishing my graduate degree and working with the Utah Shakespearean Festival.  As a perk I got a few free tickets to the festival each semester.  One summer evening when my parents were in town I thought it would be fun to see a play.  I should have been more selective.  We saw Johnny Guitar, a campy western musical with singing cowboys and melodramatic showdowns.  Honestly, Jordan has never been the same.  Every time a pair of theatrical tickets comes our way I see the fear in his eyes and sense the flashbacks of dancing cowboys joined in song. His relief is visible when I say "I'll call a friend."  Shortly after the Johnny Guitar incident I realized that musical theater wasn't our thing.  Hiking is our thing.  Going to thrift stores is our thing.  Eating delicious cheese is our thing.

Anyway, I have seen a lot of great plays this summer and been reminded why I love the theater.  When I was at BYU, studying humanities, a professor told me that we were really studying the good, the true, and the beautiful.  I feel like my year of heartbreak has made the good, the true and the beautiful even more poignant to me, and as a result I have cried at some point in almost every performance I have seen this summer.

I know it is super cheesy, but I secretly cried into my program as Mother Superior told Maria to "climb every mountain."  I wiped a single tear from my cheek when Eliza Doolittle could have danced all night.  I choked back tears when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang "He Has the Whole World in His Hands," because I really believe that He does.

The only performance I didn't cry in was Phantom of the Opera, where I felt like screaming at the star-crossed lovers, "You don't even know each other!!!"

My musical summer ended last Saturday when I saw Wicked with Jordan's mom.  I didn't know much about the play before we went.  I could have spouted off a few impressions: witches, green, Oz, etc..  All I knew was that other people - musical theater people - love it.  I heard a few song snippets out of context, and didn't really expect the whole experience to live up to the hype.  But it did, and I discovered that I really loved the whole thing.

I loved the message and the music and the humor.  But most of all I was moved to body-shaking sobs when I heard the song "For Good."  The lyrics really struck me...

It well may be  
That we will never meet again 
In this lifetime  
So let me say before we part  
So much of me 
Is made from what I learned from you  
You'll be with me 
Like a handprint on my heart

I couldn't help but think about Jonah.  About how his short life has shaped me and changed me for good.  I know that I am better because I had the opportunity to be his mother. I am also better because I have experienced the excruciating pain of losing him.  There was so much that was good, and true, and beautiful in that song.  I left feeling so grateful that I have been changed for the better by the unique life of my sweet Jonah.

And...I was grateful that it was better than Johnny Guitar!  Thanks to Sara K., Sara S., Melanie, Mike and Dave, and Logan and Linda for giving me so many opportunities to cry this summer.



  1. I love this, Julie! We have been changed for the good. I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me everyday.

  2. I just love reading your thoughts, your insights and appreciation. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your painful lessons with all of us. I have been changed for good!

  3. The group One Clear Voice has a nice rendition of this song as well. I love it, too.

  4. I love that photo of Jonah's almost chubby bod