I have been a little quiet around here, not because there is anything exciting going on. Honestly, the weather has been nice so I've actually been spending a lot of time outside and school/work has been busy. The end of the semester is rapidly approaching so lots of grading, planning, etc.
I've been reading other people's blogs but not commenting because I just feel so inarticulate. I am spinning my wheels, I guess. Nothing new to say about being sad. I'm just sort of sitting in the same place. But when I read about other people's grief (especially if I've been away from the computer a few days and my reader is full) then the sadness can overwhelm me and instead of being helpful or sympathetic, I start to feel numb and silent.
Last night David and I went to a play at the Fox theater. It's one of our favorite things to do--get dressed up and go see a show at the Fox. We saw Phantom of the Opera there the first Valentine's day we were together and since then we've seen about fifteen other shows. David had never been to a real play or musical before we got together so I really take credit for his interest in theater.
So we dressed up (I wore a cute new Rachel Roy dress that my mom bought me) and we went to dinner at an Italian place near our house and then went to the Fox. The theater itself is beautiful--all huge ceilings and floral carpets and intricate woodwork and dramatic chandeliers. The show we saw is called Next to Normal.
I knew nothing about it except it had a song in it about anti-depressants. I didn't do any research about it because I wanted to avoid plot spoilers and I had heard good things about it and also I forgot about our tickets for a while since I was, you know, rather preoccupied. I thought my friend Monica had seen it, but now I think she said that her family had gone to see it and really liked it. For some reason, I also thought it was a comedy.
In fact, folks, David and I sat through the one and only Broadway musical I know of that is about a DEAD BABY.
And we were both completely shocked.
Warning: Plot spoilers abound, so click away if you wish.
So by the second song we'd figured out that the attractive teenage boy on stage is actually dead and only the depressed, suicidal, singing mother can see him. Meanwhile, the dad is trying to hold the family together and the sixteen-year-old daughter (born after the son died) is a perfectionist trying to get her parents' attention by playing classical piano and abusing her mom's various prescription meds.
Let's just say it wasn't our best date night ever.
So, yeah, I cried during part of the show. I was really creeped out by the way they made the ghost of the dead baby into a gyrating eighteen-year-old boy who essentially argued for being kept alive in his mother's mind even though it was making her wackadoodle and also talked her into to attempting suicide. WTF.
David kept complaining that he was hot, but it wasn't that hot in the theater. It's just that we were both so freaking uncomfortable.
I don't know why we didn't leave at intermission, except I wanted to know what happened next. How were they going to resolve this?
Well, they weren't.
We finally learned in the end (after unsuccessful therapy, medication, and electroshock therapy) that the boy died when he was eight months old from an intestinal obstruction and the mom could never hold the baby born after he died and the mother and daughter sing this touching song about how things will never be normal but maybe they can just be "next to normal" and that would be okay. But then in the next song, the mom packs up and leaves and the dad cries and the daughter cries and that's basically the end of the musical.
I repeat: Not a comedy.
David said afterward that the hospital scenes (where the mom is getting electroshock therapy) made him think about our night in the hospital with Eliza--stuff he hadn't let himself think about for a long time. I'm more haunted by those memories anyway, but I did sort of feel like I got blindsided in the theater. Not by my own grief, but by a creepy, exaggerated, outsider's perspective on how this could eat someone up from the inside out.
I couldn't help but wonder what the lesson was. That if you have to betray one of your children, you should betray the dead one rather than the living one? That therapy and drugs can't fix this kind of loss? That dead babies will come back as sexy teenagers with six pack abs and convince you to slit your wrists?
And I couldn't help but think they got it all wrong, even though I realize that everyone's experience is different. Why would she leave the husband who is the only one who understands everything that has been lost? Why would she punish her daughter for her own guilt or sadness? Why would the dead baby be the villain?
The music was lovely. The staging was remarkable. The actors were good.
But I wish we'd never gone to see this show.