The above musical number was performed in November 2014, four months after li’l Rosie’s double-lung transplant. I’m at a loss to add a review here other than something synonymous with “WOW”.
We and her parents used to attend the same Bible study classes, where we got to know each other over the years, heard their incredible story and watched them living it out in real time. R.D. and Aimee had a son — an aspiring musician, healthy by all accounts and not too shabby with a guitar — followed by two daughters, both born with cystic fibrosis. It’s a condition that comes with dozens of strings attached, including an unconscionably limited life expectancy. I couldn’t begin to recount the trials and tribulations they’ve endured, that God saw them through, empowered them to endure, to thrive, to become daunting examples of faith and parenting for the rest of us comparatively spoiled brats.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover I marked the occasion when Rosie’s older sister Melanie passed away at age 18 from CF-related complications. Melanie regrettably missed the chance for a lung transplant that might’ve prolonged her life just a bit longer. Six months later the Lord was gracious enough to allow Rosie that chance. Her mom has written about some of their experiences on her own WordPress blog over the past few years, about the highs as well as the lows, the fears and frustrations, the times when she doubted she could do it, and the times she went ahead and did it anyway.
Rosie’s love of musical theater went beyond annual Tonys watching parties and inspired her to join a local theater group, giving her the amazing opportunity to perform in a few musicals whenever her condition and their medical travels wouldn’t interfere. All-kid versions of Aladdin and Legally Blonde dot her CV, among others. Despite everything, she could be a normal teenager at times — I have fun memories of a cookout at which the three siblings forwent any expectations I might’ve had of a TGIF sitcom lovefest as they snapped and snarked at each other like any average siblings, no mercy granted just because of illness. But when it came to showtunes, to Broadway, to being around other kids who wanted to perform as badly as she did, she could be one of the brightest stars in the room, with a smile as wide as the sky and sporting far better jazz hands than Anne or I will ever manage no matter how hard we practice.
We had the honor of hearing many stories about Rosie from family, friends, and fellow performers today when we attended her memorial service. After nearly twenty-two months lived to the fullest with her wondrous new lungs, Rosie passed away on May 4th — a few days before Mother’s Day and barely a month before her sixteenth birthday.
The news came less than two weeks after they’d enjoyed one last family vacation together in New York City. With musicals in it, of course.
(While we believe Rosie and Melanie are now together once again with our heavenly Father in a place far better than here, memorial donations to the family for all the imaginable expenses in this world can go straight here.)
I’m still kind of recomposing myself after the memorial service, a loving congregation of many she touched, including a number of well-spoken youngsters who bravely stepped to the mic and shared from the spaces that Rosie still hold in their hearts. Their testimonies and anecdotes are still occupying my head space, especially the words of one among the many, loosely paraphrased thusly: “Don’t be sad about what she’ll never get to do. Be happy about what she did do.”
And I remain in utter awe of that clip above, her post-op rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, which I’m super annoyed I missed the first time around. I see her taking the stage like that, and in other clips I’ve found online over the past couple hours. Her story in this life may have ended like a show canceled out of premature unfairness, but that bold, jazzy joie de vivre made her final seasons on this stage the best ones ever. Lord willing, she’ll have convinced others to live life as a Broadway tour de force instead of as a half-hearted roadshow slog.
Now’s your inning. Stand the world on its ear.