If you know Hamilton, then you know the lyrics of “History Has Its Eyes on You” and “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. If you don’t, well, keep reading….
“…you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story…”
“…when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?”
(Hamilton has been a constant on my music rotation for a while now. It pulls me in. It tells an amazing story, much of it real history, some of it stylized history. Seriously guys, if you don’t know it – learn it. It is life changing. )
The last few days the above lyrics started to mean more. It’s true – you really can’t control who lives or who dies. When you die, you get no say in who (if anyone) tells your story. Or what they tell.
(segue – sort of)
Kristen would have been 37 today. We became friends in the fifth grade – when we were both 10. She passed away in 2008 at the age of 28. I’ll never forget that phone call… But, that is a story for another time.
Dear Kristen, maybe I can’t – or never will get to – tell your whole story. The story will never be whole. Your life was cut short – an unfinished masterpiece. But I can tell people part of your story. I can have a part in keeping your flame burning. You brought so much to my life – this is the least I can do. So, here’s a story about how two 10 year old girls met…
(The scene: A fifth grade classroom. The assignment: To create a story, which would be turned into a book for the Young Authors Conference. )
For being a gifted child, I really had a tough time with this assignment. Many times my creativity spawned from a spark created by someone else. Not proud of it – but there you go. There were family problems at home, but you didn’t write a story about it. Not in 1990. Not at the age of 10. As I walked from my desk to my teachers, my attention was drawn to the book Kristen was working on. She was creating a book entitled A-Z Animal Poems. (Ok, so the title wasn’t so creative, but the poems – oh man!) I couldn’t stop watching her write these poems. Eventually she looked up and asked what I was doing. (History should also realize we didn’t really like each other prior to this moment…) Because I was struggling SO much with my book, she (and the teacher) agreed to let me work on hers with her. And in return, she helped me with my own story. (The rest, as they say, is history.) We became fast friends. There are few memories from my formative years that she isn’t in. She changed my life – for good (this is where I have to tell you to also go learn about Wicked – look up the lyrics to “For Good”. Trust me – it applies.)
I could tell so many stories, and maybe in the future I will. I will do my part to “keep your flame”, to “tell your story”. But for now, I just wish that I could wish you a happy birthday. Or maybe even (to turn a phrase) watch you blow out the flames on a cake.