The Company We Keep

11233606_10205884508463218_5384260358721738041_oI keep seeing this meme about having a friend who doesn’t ask questions- just shows up with a shovel and helps you bury the body. We all need such a person in our lives; the best friend, the cleanup crew, the “it’s ok, I won’t ask, I am just here, show me where to dig” one.

Last weekend I stood on a stage… k, walked onto a stage trying not to barf and staring out into the bright stage lighting, hoping I could remember how to read the words I’d written. Hoping they’d laugh at the parts I thought were funny. Hoping that my cold, clammy hands could grasp the pages well enough to turn them. Hoping that my voice wouldn’t shake and my message would carry. I stood on a stage and told my truth. I was the second to last in a line of some of the bravest people I have ever known. And we know how I feel about brave.

As second to last, I got to root for each writer from back stage, listen to her (or him, one him!) get brave and truth-y– and feel the audience as they kept inching forward in their seats. They inched literally and figuratively, drawn in as their own memories wove together with those of the writer, affirmed with “mmm-hmms” and “amens” and muffled teary sighs of “oh wow”. We listened backstage with bated breath, knowing the lines that would come next, knowing the gut wrenching beauty about to be spoken– and pray that the audience would feel it too. What we had felt the other times listening to our castmates’ stories. And they did. It was palpable.

As each person came back to the quiet, safe, dark backstage space we silently cheered, clapped, wiped away tears, high fived and said “good lord that was perfect.” We’d only ever spent hours together, but in those precious moments of truth telling, we became bonded for life. Cemented to each other in this shared, sacred work of turning ourselves inside out before 300 unsuspecting strangers. Not for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

Thank you Listen to Your Mother Charleston for being there for me in ways you know, and don’t yet know. Thank you for being a cast of people who I undoubtedly, unequivocally know would just show up with a shovel and get to digging. Your voices have stayed with me this week– and what I learned from each of you serves as a little kernel of strength carried right under my heart.


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