What do I say?

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My head is so swirly.  Everytime I sit and think to write it seems so difficult– like it  is so much effort.
I don’t want my journal to feel like work, and yet my desire to maintain is stronger than my own laziness.
I know that when I return more frequently to writing that I will be grateful not having completely abandoned journaling online for months at a time, as I have in the past.

Right now I am preparing for the new school year.  Or rather, NEED to be preparing for the new school year.  I’ll be teaching a full load (at about 1/3rd proper pay since I am a lowly adjunct!) There are essays to read and syllabi that need to be completed, BUT I am in the middle of another show.
Oh JOY!  Oh RAPTURE!  Why is theatre always such a mixed bag of pain and pleasure.  The masochism involved astounds me, but I can’t not.
Ah vell.

So, yeah, I’m doing Godspell again.  It’s my first time doing the show since the production I did in seminary.
That version has it’s share of terrific and terrible memories. But worse than anything that happened during the show, a few years later my good friend, Johnny who played Jesus in that production, died very unexpectedly (he had just turned 29.)  His death was, in short, absolutely tragic for me, his other friends, the future of our denomination . . . you name it.  I can honestly say that I thought I would never be able to do the show again.  Too many memories.  Too much emotion tied to them.  And nothing to be done about it.  I remember the weight of his body as we carried him out after the crucifixion scene, still so very alive then and only pretending to be dead.

Years later though, I really am finding the process a healing one.  And my connection to the story is, obviously, even stronger now.
Of course, I still haven’t made it through the performances without being a puddle of mush or an emotional wreck, but I trust that it will all be well.

In the meantime I do still miss you, Johnny.
johnny and heidi

After he died, his then fiancee put together a beautiful book of everyone’s memories.
For my own record, or if you are curious about our friendship . . .

February, 2001
My thoughts and feelings frequently move toward Johnny, and I feel a great sense of community with his other friends and relatives, as I know theirs do as well.
I continue to mourn the loss of my seminary companion.  Though I first met Johnny in the summer of 1994 as he worked on the NYC (Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference) staff, I did not truly know Johnny until we arrived at seminary together in the Fall of 1997.  Just that semester, in two shared intro courses, official and unofficial student gatherings, and Godspell rehearsals– we spent a large amount of our time together as other students and cast members could attest.  Even so, though you might think he was sick of me, and probably was for that matter– he didn’t let that get in his way.  He was always willing to spend extra timediscussing politics or the future of our denomination, sharing some hopes and lots of fears and supporting one another in our first days at seminary.  I did my best to encourage his despised journal keeping for ministry studies, with little effect, I might add.  And he listened as I struggled through an uncomfortable ministry experience, which was for me an invaluable act of friendship in his part.  What I loved most about a relationship with Johnny was he was always willing to argue or stand up TO you.  But, when you needed it most, he was always there to stand up, even taller, FOR you.  In times of difficulty I often found that a talk with Johnny reassured that I had a dear friend, and a fierce advocate as well.
I loved, too, that we shared many of the same passions in ministry and visions for the world– for justice, equality– and a new name for the COB! (Church of the Brethren)  I even enjoyed sharing stories and experiences of our “phobias-in-common,” with equal nervousness regarding thunderstorms and throwing up.  A strange bond, I know.
And somehow we always managed to be teamed up, for countless class projects and as emcees– for common meals, and Folk on the Green, and with no notice, even a youth variety show at the 1998 Annual Conference!  We took turns, trading back and forth, coupling over the top slapstick with dry wit.  We loved to laugh with (and at) each other.
It is, of course, memories of Godspell that are most vivid, most difficult and most treasured (if only for the sheer number of them!)  I feel blessed to have been able to spend what often at the time seemed like endless hours with Johnny and our cast mates.
I am thankful to know that I recognized with Johnny the importance of his support and friendship.  As I travelled to Florida that year for Annual Conference I remember saying to my mother, “You know who I’ve missed most since school let out?  Johnny Harvey . . . I am going to tell him that!”  And I did, and I’m so glad.
Johnny, I will continue to miss you and lament days we will never share; but for your living spirit, the memories of your hugs, laughter and strong convictions– I have gratitude that is beyond words. Johnny, I love you my brother.  ~Heidi

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2 thoughts on “What do I say?

  1. Dunno what to say about Johnny. But then, I never know what to say about people who are gone and people who remain, even when I’m the one remaining.

    Though, on the subject of Godspell, I can say a lot. Like how one of the most astounding and wonderful things about the show is how it’s so different from one production to the next. I looked through the pictures you posted, and it’s really neat how you guys handled it. When we did it in high school, the “costumes” were different colored t-shirts with white painter overalls, and the setting was a junkyard with a chainlink fence and aluminum shed as the background.

    Ya know, it’s funny. I never really miss theatre at all until I read your posts. 😛

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