When I was 15, I sang the Hallelujah Chorus.
I practised for months, with the choir on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays and in private on all the other days. I sang until I had the notes just exactly right and did the final, enormous dress rehearsal. I said to my parents, “This is going to be amazing!” and they said, “We can’t wait to see it.”
I got up and put on my blue robes and went to a hall on the other side of town. I stood in the second row and took a deep breath and looked for my family in the audience. My boyfriend was there, waving at me. And my dad was there, waving at me. And next to him there was an empty space that didn’t wave to me, where my mum should have been. So I sang to my boyfriend and my dad and the empty space.
Fifteen years ago my mum didn’t make it to the performance I was most proud of.
For ten years I held it against her.
Tomorrow my own daughter has her first performance with her choir. She has her embroidered t-shirt and her sheet music and her yellow ribbon. She says to me, “This is going to be amazing!” and I say, “I can’t wait to see it.”
It’s in a hall on the other side of town. We have six tickets.
I’m so afraid that my space will be empty.