For months, I have been looking forward to seeing the Broadway Musical Hamilton.
Tonight (June 2, 2018) was the night. I was ready. Or so I thought, to enjoy an evening of hip hop and history. I know all the words to every song. I thought I knew how the musical would all play out….but what I was not completely ready for is how deeply moved I am by the story of Alexander Hamilton, who, like me was born a Bastard Orphan……
I loved the music. The character development was superb. The historical importance of who Hamilton is to our country is so relevant.
What I want to address is, for adoptees, this musical, is an anthem of BECOMING to finding MEANING and to NOT THROWING AWAY OUR SHOT. We all have a purpose in our lives – it is up to each of us to find that purpose, then tell our story.
When Alexander meets his soon to be bride, Elizabeth Schuyler, the Schuyler sisters begin to sing the song, “Helpless” talking about how “helpless” Eliza feels in the presence of Alexander. To me, I saw something and heard something from Alexander that I never could get the emotional importance of by only listening to the cast recording.
Alexander came from helplessness. He was a bastard child of a woman considered a whore due to having a child with a mam who was not her husband. He was left orphaned at age 13 when his mother died. He was left penniless, alone and helpless.
Seeing this song and how it was portrayed on staged touched me deeply. The following lyric is the portion of the musical that brought me to my emotional core:
Alexander sings to Eliza,
“I’ve been livin’ without a family since I was a child
My father left, my mother died, I grew up buckwild
But I’ll never forget my mother’s face, that was real
And long as I’m alive, Eliza, swear to God
You’ll never feel so… Helpless!”
This is a truly vulnerable, open moment when Alexander shares with Eliza his sadness about his childhood and his promise to never have her feel as helpless as he did growing up.
As I saw and heard and felt this line in this musical, I was awestruck by the realization that so many adoptees feel Helpless. So many of us felt like we lived without a family. So many of us grew up buckwild – searching for our own identity, trying to stop feeling so helpless. And, though many of us never saw our own mother, we knew she was real.
This was the part in the musical where I had to hold back an ugly cry and just let myself cry without sobbing. No easy feat when you realize that what you have felt and never been able to articulate about your heart’s longing was just sung on a stage in the most beautiful way.
I realized, in this moment in Hamilton, that I never knew what having a family of my very own meant until I was married and had my first child. When I created a life out of love with the man I chose to live life with, that is when I truly had a “family.”
The line of, “I’ve been livin’ a life without a family since I was a child,” broke my heart for so many adoptees who have felt this way growing up. For the many children who still feel this way.
What about Elizabeth “Eliza” Hamilton? She lived to be 97 years old. She lived without Alexander for 50 years. In that time, she raised their surviving 7 children. She lived to honor her husband by starting New York Orphan Asylum Society. Alexander Hamilton began his life as an orphan. His wife opened an orphanage. The beauty of her life’s work amazes me. She loved Alexander so deeply, she never forgot where he came from and who he became. What a priceless gift this love is to the world – still.
I am a lover of Broadway. There are many, many musicals that have moved me to tears. I have been touched deeply, once again, by music, by people’s lives lived out on the stage and like Alexander, I am “not going to throw away my shot” and I am going to continue to “write like I am running out of time,” and to “tell my story.”
My handsome husband, Wayne, and me at Hamilton at The Smith Center