Thursday, June 10, 2010


Cooper and Katie during intermission Sunday night

Sunday night I was able to fulfill a promise I made to Katie more than two years ago, while we were in Chicago. She saw Wicked!

I wrote about it for today's Briefing. You can read it here or here:

No time like the present to enjoy a stuffed monkey

One of the gifts of my late husband's brain tumor was the reminder that life is finite and time is unbearably short.

Until Steve's cancer diagnosis, he and I had always assumed that we would have decades to fit in all that we wanted to accomplish together. Our list was long and always growing.

We visited New York City twice together, each time vowing to return to see more museums, walk through more parks and eat more fancy dinners. We had no inkling that our long Manhattan weekend in November 2006 would be our final trip there together.

On that trip we didn't have time for the Broadway show we'd hoped to see. We were happy instead to catch Wicked right here in Dallas a few months later.

Our son wanted to hear about every detail after, so we described the plot and characters and played the soundtrack over and over. And we promised Cooper that we would take him to see the musical someday.

A few months after that, we learned of Steve's brain tumor.

To celebrate the end of Steve's grueling radiation therapy, the whole family spent a long weekend in Chicago. We chose the city in part because Wicked was playing there, and we wanted to fulfill the promise to Cooper while there was still time – because "someday," we realized, wasn't guaranteed.

Little sister Katie, who stayed at the hotel with Grandma and Papa while we attended the show, cried over being left behind. So I promised her that one day she, too, would see the musical. By then I had learned to be careful with my words. We were prayerful that Steve would beat the awful odds of his cancer, but I had to balance our optimism with realism.

"When you're 6 like Cooper is now, you can see it, too." I didn't say who would take her.

Wicked is playing again at the Music Hall, and last weekend I was able to fulfill my promise to Katie, a year early. Steve's illness and death taught me not to wait for the next touring production.

The week before the show, we looked through a book about the musical to give her an idea of costumes and sets. I described the plot without giving away the ending, reminding her that she couldn't ask questions during the show. We listened to the soundtrack often, especially her favorite song, "Popular."

When we arrived at the theater Sunday night, she was bubbly despite the late hour. She even took in stride my refusal to buy her a stuffed winged monkey in the lobby.

During the performance, I spent almost as much time watching Katie's expressions as I did watching the stage. She could hardly contain herself at times, so enchanted by scenes from her imagination coming to life and familiar songs performed by musicians in the very same room. There was no stopping her from singing along with "Popular."

By intermission, she was starting to show signs of wear, understandable since she was already two hours past bedtime. A snack refueled her, but what she really, really wanted was one of those monkeys.

I relented, despite my inner dialogue of too many stuffed animals at home and the outrageous markup of theater souvenirs and the possibility that I could find a similar monkey somewhere else for less.

I pulled out cash for one stuffed monkey for the kids to share because if Steve had been there, he would have bought two stuffed monkeys, one for each child. And because at that very moment I remembered – again – that sometimes there's no reason to wait.

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. E-mail her at

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