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  • Writer's pictureSusan Welsh

Kiss Today Goodbye

2020 was supposed to be a very good year. There was a trip planned to Italy—an adventure that was to begin in Rome, where I still dream of the cappuccino at Cafe Greco. Then on to the Amalfi Coast, where I anticipated gazing at the terraced vineyards while a gentle breeze stirred up the scent of lemon groves—a pocketful of la dolce vita to bring back home with us.

Instead, the world was ravaged by a global pandemic and in October, my father passed away, slipping into eternal sleep at 2:10 am on the cusp of the autumnal equinox with The Harvest Moon shining like a beacon over the nursing home—the air crisp and chilly and a room empty of my father's breath.

The finality of his death felt surreal. It still does. As many do, I seek comfort in books and music. It isn't difficult to draw a direct line from the songs and books I love, now and then, to him. There’s a gorgeous remake of the old Broadway show tune “More I Cannot Wish You,” done by Loudon Wainwright III. A song I recently heard again for the first time in decades. It takes me back to one of the years that my father had given my mother and me season tickets to the Bucks County Playhouse. It's on that stage where I first heard the song, written by one of my favorite composers, Frank Loesser, for the show "Guys and Dolls." The lyrics are deeply poignant— sentiments from one generation to another for finding true love, merry music, and wisdom along life’s way.

2021 has come in like a lion—insurrection and a news cycle full of doom and gloom. There doesn’t seem to be any way to approach life other than one day at a time. Right now, I could use a little dose of Broadway, some great ballads belted out on the stage to soothe this sentimental heart. When the reel of my life unspools before the pearly gates I would love to see a clip of my young, hopeful, self singing “Kiss Today Goodbye” on the Firestone Theater stage. This was an audition that landed me a part in the chorus of the Pepperdine production of The Music Man where the legendary playwright Meredith Willson met with us backstage on opening night to wish us luck.

The Great White Way isn’t slated to open until sometime in 2021—maybe. In a virtual conference sponsored by the Association of Performing Arts professionals last Saturday, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that the reopening of live venues “will occur sometime in the fall of 2021.” God-willing, Steph and I will settle into our seats at the Winter Garden Theater as the curtain goes up, the train rolls into River City, and Hugh Jackman--the greatest showman, jauntily leads the band in a rousing march across the stage. I long to feel the percussive jolt of trombones, cornets, copper bottom timpani, and that old familiar Broadway magic that lights up and fills the soul, if just for a little while, with the hopefulness, happiness, and sweetness of what we do for love.

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