I saw a musical tonight, performed by the Grade 8 students of St. Mary Choir School. Twice I taught a blind student there, each time for three years. But now I don’t know any of the kids and they don’t know me. What an eerie feeling that is, so familiar with the school, it being part of my history, but now I’m a stranger.
The kids were magnificent in their acting, singing and dancing. The ogre Shrek seems to be rejected by nearly everybody. Just a big green “ugly” fellow. The beautiful princess has eyes only for the lord of the land, someone who hopefully will sweep her off her feet. Alas, she harbours a terrible secret – a spell turns her into a disfigured green maiden every night at sunset. How could the prince love a girl like that?
Only a kiss from her true love will transform the princess into eternal beauty. And finally she sees that Shrek is that love. His kiss, however, doesn’t return her to Hollywood loveliness. She remains green but is changed within. True beauty.
It was such a sweet story. Let’s all be ourselves and celebrate each person’s uniqueness.
There’s a Part Two to my evening. Before the show, as I was seeking my seat, I saw a girl who four years ago was a classmate of the blind child I worked with. I’ll call her Allie. As our eyes met, she smiled and said “Mr. Kerr”. We hugged. And I couldn’t remember her name. I remembered how alive she was back then, so spontaneous, but no name came to me. I decided to admit to her that I’d forgotten. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. As resilient as I guessed she was now, it’s hard to be forgotten. She said it was okay, I found out how high school life was for her, and we wished each other well.
As I watched the play, I was sad. “Do no harm, Bruce.” And I never intend to. I’ve prided myself for a long time in remembering people’s names but lately it’s been a struggle. As with you, Allie.
At the end, I wanted to find her, to apologize, to tell her how she had made me smile so often back then. After talking to an old friend for a few minutes, I went in search. Allie wasn’t in the theatre. She wasn’t in the lobby. On a whim, I returned to the theatre. Nope. Oh well, I hope you got that I meant no harm.
Time to go. Back through the lobby … and there she was standing with her friends. We saw each other. We smiled again.
“I’m so sorry that I forgot your name. I remember your zest for life, and I’m sure you still have it.” My eyes were watering.
“It’s not important. There were a lot of us.”
“It is important. It’s your name.”
Two final smiles and then the latest intersection of our lives was gone. Fare thee well, young woman.