Yesterday, our nine-year-old daughter sang in her first recital. I admit when the program listed twenty-two performances I had an ungenerous moment and shifted in my seat with much the same sense of unpleasantness I experience at the dentist. Our daughter was second on the schedule and I thought once she’d performed it would be hard to stay engaged. I was wrong.
The singers ranged in ages from four to twenty, and their skill and experience levels also varied. Our daughter sang Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon.” She poured her heart and soul into the song, thinking as she performed of her two young cousins in Ireland, Megan and Katie. My sister lived in San Francisco for twelve years and Megan and Katie were both born here. However, my sister returned to Ireland permanently three years ago, when Katie was four and Megan two. They were the only family I have in the United States (aside from three cousins), and similarly my husband has no family here. Our daughters keenly feel that sense of loss of family (Katie and Megan were more like sisters than cousins to them) and we often have to remind them how blessed we are to have so many friends here who we consider family (and in many ways are better than family because of those pretty white-picket boundaries).
The final performer yesterday, aged twenty, sang “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. From the first note, she grabbed the audience and her great voice and heartfelt performance held us hard. As she reached the end of the song, her breathing turned ragged, her entire body shook with emotion, and she struggled to make those final notes. But she did. The audience clapped and cheered, and several cried. I blubbered. This brave terrified young woman was showing us her insides. Messy, ugly, powerful, beautiful, amazing insides.