July 17, 2010
I got to the theater on Friday at about 1:30 with Jake in tow to get a good seat for Tanner’s performance. Aunt Beth had beat me there and as I walked into the building, I realized I had left my camera at home… doh! I left Jake in Beth’s capable hands and drove like a bat out of hell all the way home and back, just in time to slide in my seat and catch my breath before the lights went down and the show started.
The kids were doing 10 songs, one from each of the ten years the Boiler Room Theater has been in existence. The first song up was, “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line. The song is really upbeat and the kids had learned some fun choreography to go along with it. Tanner was so cute doing the dances. When the music suddenly slowed, my daughter stepped confidently to the front and center of the stage and belted out her solo. She was FANTASTIC!!!!
As Beth, John and I were giving each other high fives, the kids launched into several more songs from Gypsy, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and Fiddler on the Roof. Then, they all went back stage and the lights went out. A spotlight came on center stage and Tanner walked out from behind the curtain and all by herself, and sang the first stanza of “Day by Day” from Godspell. She was dressed in jean shorts and a purple t-shirt with a long psychedelic vest over it. Her long, skinny legs ended in a pair of sneakers that looked too big for the rest of her. Her short hair set her apart from all the other girls. She looked very small on the stage. But, she was so confident and so beautiful. John, Beth and I cried, of course. Tanner caught my eye while I was crying and I quickly smiled so she wouldn’t be thrown off.
It was an arena where it did not matter that she has leukemia. It didn’t matter that she has spent 25 days in the hospital over the past year or visited the oncology clinic 37 times, or spent countless hours in the ER with a fever. It didn’t matter that she had blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, antibody transfusions and an unbelievable variety of chemo drugs injected into her small body.
It just didn’t matter.
She could still stand up there and sing with a confidence and a natural ability that could not be stolen from her by this disease or her treatment. It was a great victory in what has been a grueling battle. In that moment, it just did not matter that she has cancer.
John and I were left speechless all that night. We kept watching the videos we had taken over and over. She had zero fear on the stage and why should she? What could be scarier that what she has already endured? I think we just couldn’t believe that after all that she has been through in the last year, there she was, shining on that stage. Making a place for herself, despite the fact that she had been in the hospital just the day before getting chemo.
It was just a great day, one we will not forget for a long time, and the first of many we will spend sitting in a theater watching our daughter perform. We’re already trying to figure out how she can do Alice in Wonderland in the fall. She’s found what she loves and what she’s good at; and I think it will really help her get through the next year to have something she is passionate about to focus on.
I realize I have gushed beyond what is acceptable, considering this is my own child. But, it’s been a long time since we have been able to proud of her for anything other than fighting cancer.
P.S. You can watch two of her solos by following this link http://gallery.me.com/john_page#100082. We kept the clips short so as not to compromise the privacy of the other kids in the show.