The most beautiful words I can think of tonight.
I went to a concert in memory of my Musical Theatre high school teacher who lost her battle with cancer five years ago at age 30. Students at my school put on a fundraiser concert in her memory every year. Tonight, they sang. What else is there to do? Some of the kids up there don’t even know who Mrs. MacDonald was, she was before their time. But I remember her.
She was one of the first people who said to me, “Kayla, if you want to do this for a career, you can. You have the talent to make this happen”. She cast me in her shows, she spent time with me working on my parts, she believed in me. Long before anyone else did. Even longer before I believed in myself. I remember her talking to me before I went on as Nancy in Oliver and helping me shade in my clevage! What an amazing teacher she was…
She came in one day and asked me for some stretches because her hip had been bugging her. How could I ever know.. that she would eventually need her femur replaced because of the cancer growth? As a 28 year old woman, she rocked a cane. She still came to our classes as a volunteer long after she stopped being able to work.
I remember the call. Mr. Baxter, the musical director of our shows called my cell one day. That was super weird in itself. I picked up and he just said “Kayla”. And I knew. I had graduated school already and I hadn’t seen him in a while. But I knew. I called my best friend. She was at dinner with her family. I was in tears, she picked up her cell. I said “Mrs. MacDonald”. And she sobbed and said “No”. That was it. “No”. I ruined her dinner. I felt bad about that afterwards. Weird what we feel in those moments.
She was so young. So full of love for her art. So full of hope for us. It’s an amazing feeling. To be endowed with so much as a young person. To have someone believe so fully in you. You don’t even understand it at the time. But I do now. Five years later.
I just need to say some things to her.
Thank you. For believing in me. For creating the Musical Theatre program at my high school. For continually pushing for more time, energy, and resources to create better shows at that high school. For coming into my life. For changing my life. For telling me that I could do this. I can honestly say that without her I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t. It didn’t even cross my mind that I could do this for a living until she talked to me. I owe her so much.
I miss you. I may be able to go a long time without bringing up these feelings, but when they come up, they are hard to take. I find it tough to be in that school and know you’re not there. I keep thinking you’ll walk down the hall.
So tonight, I’ll sing. In my room, after the concert. Because I can’t think of a better way to honour you.