When I started writing about Olive's story after she died it never occurred to me that it wasn't over. I didn't view it as a story, not until late last fall that is. A friend of mine has been actively involved in the Listen to Your Mother shows for a few years now. I've always been intrigued by the stories I've watched online, never attending a live show myself. Stories of motherhood: love, loss, humor and beauty. Late last fall I realized that Milwaukee had a show of it's own and thanks to many of you continuing to follow along our journey - you helped me to realize that I had a story to tell. A very important one.
I was the keeper of Olive's story - a story that deserved to be told just like any other story. A story that would bring healing to more than just myself. I decided to sign up for an audition spot.
It is one thing to tell pieces of this story from behind my computer screen, it's a whole new beast to tell it in front of hundreds of people. Before I jumped the gun I needed to get through the 3 producers. And before that - well, I had to actually write a piece of the story.
Where would I begin? There were so many things I wanted to say, so many emotions I wanted my viewer to understand - three days before the audition I had nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
I cried to my husband that I was going to let Olive down. This is all I wanted to do - even if I didn't make the show, I wanted to verbally tell someone her story. He encouraged me to get in front of the computer and just start writing. I did and I came up with a rough draft. When I read through it I thought it was great - and then I realized it was over 10 minutes long. I only had 5 minutes to tell her story. Crap.
After days of editing and tweaking, I had my final draft. Olive's story - in 5 minutes. Geesh - I could talk about this sweet baby for days, how on earth was I going to get people to understand the depth of my love for her, and hopefully have them fall in love with her too, in just 5 short minutes? I practiced in front of the bathroom mirror. I recorded myself and played it back, over and over again while I was driving around town running errands. Sunday afternoon came and I headed off to the audition.
I was nervous. My voice was shaking and I hadn't been able to get through the piece without crying. "That's OK," I thought, "you can't tell this story without tears," I convinced myself. I didn't cry. I read my piece with dry mouth and a cracking voice. When I finally looked up no one said a word. They were all crying. They asked me what her name was, apologized for my loss and thanked me for sharing such an important and private piece of my life with them. I left. I felt good, not 100% confident that I would make it, but I was proud of myself. I got out of my comfort zone and told her story, even if it was to just 3 people.
Later that week I learned I would be a part of the cast. I had no idea how this would change my life.
The people I've met, the stories I've heard, the beautiful community that is created when we celebrate all of these unique versions of motherhood is something that cannot be described - it just needs to be felt. Something amazing happens when we sit back and listen to each other. We ALL have stories to tell, each one unique, but each one identifiable.
I would encourage you: man, woman, husband, wife, brother, son, grandmother or mother - any of you reading this now to consider finding a Listen to Your Mother show in your area, remove yourself from your comfort zone and tell your beautiful story!
I promise you - the world
To all who came, offered words of encouragement or sent well-wishes from afar - thank you! To my husband - I know that this is as much your story as mine, and you continue to encourage me to bare my soul to the world. I hope this crazy little blog and the support from friends, family and strangers that comes with it has brought you peace as well. Thank you for being the amazing husband and father you are!
For those of you who have asked, the videos from every Listen to Your Mother show nationwide have been released!! I've included mine here if you'd like to watch. I would encourage you to search the LTYM Show channel on You Tube to find other videos that inspire you - there are thousands!