Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Lil Stage Shadow

As excited as I was to jump into another play, there was also a bit of bittersweet hesitation.  Whenever something is strongly connected to memories of Austin, it sometimes makes it difficult to do again.  The last play I was in was in 2008, just months before losing Austin.  He was such a big help during that period - from helping me learn my lines, to being at every single performance, and everything in between. 
I didn't know if I could be back on stage again without being overcome with the floodgates of memories that would come flowing in.  It was mostly this concern that kept from even auditioning until this year.  When I entered the theatre, many feelings came over me, but there was a positivity and warmth connected to them.  The memories weren't painful but rather sweet and lovely. 

As I took home my script that first night, I remembered how excited Austin was for me and how much he enjoyed running lines.  In fact, we spent many hours during our vacation that year - along the drive to Florida - doing just that.  I remembered how he gave me feedback on my performances, how he was there for every one, smiling proudly from the crowd, and how helpful and willing he was to support our entire cast.  While I was saddened at the knowledge he wouldn't be there with me throughout this play, I could feel his loving presence pushing me forward and encouraging me along the way.

What I didn't expect was for Noah to fill those shoes.  I don't know that he remembers how active Austin was with my last play.  After all, it has been three years and Noah was only eight years old at that time.  However, he's jumped right in and helped out just like his big brother would've.  From the first night, he's helped me read lines, enthusiastic and excited to turn the next page. 

In some ways I've actually had to put brakes on how helpful he could be though.  This play, a murder mystery, has a secret ending and aside from taking an oath of silence with the director, I didn't want to spoil the ending for him.  I haven't allowed him to read the last act with me or attend any practices to keep the surprise.  He's been a little disappointed, wanting to be fully involved in every aspect.

Finally, after his first viewing of the play last Saturday, he now has full access!  It tickled me to see his enthusiasm return, so eager to attend every performance that remained.  Sunday I gave him a backstage tour, which he loved, and he pitched in to help in any area he saw that needed it.  I actually had to call him off stage after the play because he wanted to stay and help until the very end.  And he can't wait for next weekend to do it all again.

It warms my heart to have been blessed with two amazing sons, both of which have always fully supported me in anything I do.  Walking onto the stage this weekend, I knew that they were both there - Austin, watching over me and encouraging me from above, and Noah, my new little shadow, proudly applauding from the audience and helping behind the scenes.


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