So long, farewell - FamilyEducation

So long, farewell

February 27,2012
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Last weekened T. and I, accompanied by two neighborhood friends, went to a performance of The Sound of Music, put on by a local college. I had taken T. to one play before--Peter Pan. She was young then, about four years old, and while she still remembers the play, it's one thing to see a play at four, and quite another to see it when you are eight, and you love musicals, and you wake up each morning belting out songs from Annie, or The Sound of Music, and your new favorite book is Theater Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild.

I hadn't been to a theatrical production in ages. I might have been as excited as T., and when the lights went dark, and the curtain rustled a little in that magical hold-your-breath moment before it was raised, I had to give T.'s arm a little excited squeeze.

There were good parts, and not-so-good parts. One of the actors had clearly strained his voice over the previous days of performing (we were at the last show), and Maria seemed tired and too-serious ("Mama," T. whispered to me right before the intermission, "Maria is supposed to be happy"). But I don't think T. minded at all and, in the end, I didn't mind one bit, either.

After we dropped our friends off at their house, I pulled away, and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see T.'s face dissolve into tears.

"What's wrong?" I asked in alarm.

She was so sad that it was over--that performance she'd been waiting for so long, that she'd scored the days leading up to it off on her wall calendar. It was done, the magic faded, and in its wake just a rainy, ordinary Sunday evening.

I knew how she felt. Life really is made up of a string of waited-for moments, one after the other. Sometimes we're in the audience, watching the story unfold in front of us; other times we're on stage, trying to remember our lines, and hoping we're good enough. 

"We'll see another play soon," I promised T., my mind racing to think about how I could track down another, and when it would be (next weekend? Not soon enough). "This won't be the last one!"

"Oh Mama," T. said. "I just hate it when things end. The being over part is just no fun."

And it's not, not really. 

"I hate the being over part, too," I told her with a sigh.

But sometimes one story has to end, to make room for another. Sometimes one curtain falls, just so there's an excuse to raise another.