Last night I took Norah and her two friends to the theater. We saw “Little Women”, the musical. I wanted to do something special for her friends since I knew their dad was deploying the week of the show.
As Norah and I pulled into their neighborhood, Norah said, “You know, Mom, the girls in Little Women are a lot like my friends’ dad. Both of the dads are gone to war.”
I had to pull over for a second. I hadn’t made the connection at all. Quickly, I ran through the story in my head. Would it be ok to take these girls to see it?
I pulled the girls’ mom aside as they loaded up and asked her thoughts. She looked as surprised as I had been. I can’t believe we didn’t think about it! She hurriedly took her youngest daughter aside and told her that the story tonight would be about a different war. One fought a long time ago.
I’m mentally kicking myself.
I’ve read Little Women umpteen times. Somehow, reading it and watching even the musical version at this time in my life has been powerful.
Reading it, I’m intrigued by Marmee as a mother. Her candid talk. Especially when she admits, “I am angry nearly every day of my life.” Mostly, Marmee makes me feel inadequate in every way. It is no wonder I latch on to this one revelation.
The musical was brilliant. Fifteen minutes into it, I stopped biting my nails and fretting over the girls. I got caught up in the story. The first moment that hit me was Marmee’s scene in which she tries to write her absent husband a letter. She wants to tell him how hard the days are and how alone she feels. And how she fears she is failing as a mother. But she can only write chipper words of encouragement. I ached for my friend who said the same thing about when she tried to write a letter to her deployed husband.
And then came Marmee’s song, “Days of Plenty” which begins after Jo asks, “How do you do it? How do you go on?” referencing Beth’s death.
I missed the funeral of a young mother in our community to attend “Little Women”. It wasn’t an easy decision. Images of my grieving friends and this mother’s small children were always in my thoughts. I wanted to be there to support them.
And then this song.
I refused to feel tragic,
I am aching for more than pain and grief.
There has got to be meaning,
Most of all when a life has been so brief.
I have got to learn something,
How can I give her any less?
I want life to go on.
I want Days of Plenty
You have to Believe,
There is reason for Hope.
You have to Believe
That the answers will come.
You can’t let this defeat you.
I won’t let this defeat you.
You must fight to keep her there,
So Believe that she matters!
And Believe that she always will!
She will always be with you!
She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to feel!
She will live in your bounty!
She will live as you carry on your life!
So carry on,
Full of Hope,
She’ll be there,
For all your Days of Plenty
I love that line, “She will live in your bounty.”
I didn’t know Eileen well. I knew her as a mom in the playgroup. Our conversations were rarely more than surface level mom stuff. She had sparkly eyes and a humongous spirit. I remember once when she spontaneously led the older kids in yoga poses during a babywearing group. They followed her like the pied piper.
Many of my friends knew her deeply and loved her deeply. And as I sat in the theater with tears falling off the tip of my nose, listening to a musical (a musical!!), I knew that I was hearing Truth.
She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to feel. She will live in your bounty. She will live as you carry on your life.
My time with Little Women has been unexpectedly raw and revealing. And I have to believe there is reason for absorbing it at this time and place.
Of deployed husbands and fathers.
Of angry marmees.
Of grieving friends.
May we carry on full of Hope.