Tonight I am finding myself at a loss for words. Exhausted, I have a million things to write about but justice would be done to none. Instead of doing less than my best, here is a free write from my Friday class.

Disclaimer! As we say in our family, towards the end, it “takes a turn”.

Things That Make Me Melt:

*When Tayla crawls into my lap and throws her arms around my neck.

*When she says “mom, do you want to see what I wrote?”.

*Most everyone on America’s Got Talent… watching ¬†the culmination of a persons dedicated and hard work summed up in a smile or a tear, receiving what I’m sure feels like the ultimate validation.

*Comedians who laugh at their own jokes.

*When one of my cats stretch themselves across my bare feet, not so subtly demanding a belly rub.

*Doggies. Especially Niles. Probably seven pounds of miniature dachshund, minus an eye. Minus my sister. My heart breaks when I think of him alone with Natalie’s body. Tenderly washing her exposed skin in desperate kisses.

I remember sitting in that conference room. The apartment building on LaSalle Ave when the medical examiner told us she’d most likely passed around 2 or 3 am that morning. Hours. Just hours we missed her by. Eight hours earlier I could have called and expected she’d answer.

I don’t know how time works for animals. I know part of him understands, like part of me understands but I can’t help but tear up whenever I see him, still searching for her, like me.

Stages in (my) Life

Five or six years old, watching Annie, the broadway play.

Natalie’s face, wide-eyed and hypnotized.

The back of her dress, red and rippling as she ran toward the stage.

Dads arm barley misses her white, laced collar.

The dress matches Annie’s and suddenly, unsuspecting Annie’s solo turns into a duet.

Third or fourth grade,

standing in a flower pot, because I fit the best.

Swaying in the fabricated breeze, I scan the rows of metal chairs in the gymnasium for mom and dad.

At 18, I stared at the empty stage.

I closed my eyes and imagined walking across, to the podium, accepting my diploma instead of settling for my GED.

A college cafeteria, a makeshift stage.

My name is Melanie and I’m an alcoholic.

Last year, back stage.

I forgot my notebook.

I’m sure I looked pretty cocky being the only comedian NOT last-minute cramming before my name is called.

Under the spotlight

This is the first time I felt like I’d ever been on stage and I never wanted to leave.

After years in the shadows and the darkness, it was my time to envelop myself in the arms of artificial light and shine.

Next stage?

Being an advocate for Natalie and others. Giving a voice to those who have lost their own.

“All the world’s a stage”

What role will you play?