The gilded walls in all their splendor took my breath away. Gazing upon the stage at the huge red velvet curtain, I imagined the first time I viewed a production in this historic Boston theater. It was a magical, unforgettable night for Mom and me several years ago. I knew that tonight’s show would be the same.
Accompanied by my darling daughters, our little trio entered the Boston Opera House arm in arm and with great anticipation to enjoy the acclaimed musical Hamilton. Thanks to the long time planning on the part of my lovely husband, who wished to surprise me with an early birthday gift, we were overjoyed to be together for this special moment in time. Donning her grandmother’s fur coat, a witty Emma took pleasure strolling around the theater lobby like a proud peacock. Practical Grace made her way to the lobby bar and secured delicious glasses of champagne for our threesome. With all of our excitement, good will and happiness I was still struggling with one problem that unfortunately does not go away for people who live with chronic pain…the pain itself.
The show was extraordinary in every way. From the moment the first actor began singing, we were hooked. I took pleasure in watching the way the music and story impacted my girls. As I sat between them, I tried to be careful about the frequency of my movements. The theater seats were quite uncomfortable for me and I had a tough time finding a position that didn’t negatively affect the worst part of my back. Grace offered me her very puffy jacket and we made a pillow out of it, hoping it would provide lumbar support. By intermission I was hitting an 8 on a 10 point pain scale so I opted to walk around while the girls stayed in their seats. It’s very tough to be in a beautiful, festive setting with people you love and complain about being in pain. They don’t want to hear it and you don’t want to tell it. (People in pain always feel like a drag, pulling others down.) After a walk, pain pill and a prayer I decided to head back to the seats. I made it through the end of the show and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the pain never really went away…it never does. I didn’t tell the girls for fear of ruining our terrific night but the effort took its toll on me and I spent the next day resting on my heating pad in bed. This is the reality of my life right now and I have to work hard to accept it. Balance…some days I am better at it than others but I am trying so hopefully progress will come in time.
Thinking about it, I could have stayed home knowing that this outing would be difficult for me. I could have made excuses, people would not have blamed me. But in the end, I would have blamed me. If I gave in to the pain every time, I would have missed out on a perfectly memorable night with my two girls. Living with chronic pain is tough but there are times when you have to push beyond what you think you can do and just go for it. It may not be perfect but it will be worth it!
I’ve recently received news from the doctors that this is it, in terms of my chronic back pain. The diseases/injuries to my back are not fixable and the two major back surgeries I’ve endured have not “worked.” Of course this news is sobering but it is not the end of the story. As long as I’ve got the freedom to choose how to think about the pain every day, then I will be okay because I choose HOPE. My mom faced an insurmountable cancer diagnosis and was told she would not live a few months, but she chose hope. My mom defied all odds and lived 3 years, not 3 months! In those 3 years we enjoyed beautiful experiences together like sipping champagne and watching a stunning ballet at the Boston Opera House.
I saw the incredible show Hamilton with my girls last week! Yes, I was in a lot of pain but that’s not what I remember. I will cherish a memorable evening in Boston with my two wonderful daughters. The sparkle in their young eyes, the beauty of their burnished gold hair and the feeling of their warm, gentle hands in mine as we walked together as one.