A soft blue glow dimly gives light to the dark recesses of an inky backstage area.
We sit hip to hip, perched in chairs that form an oval, silent except for the wild beating of hearts, the quick whispers of courage breathed out to the first voice making her way toward the center stage.
She's first to bring life to the black print on white as she shares her story.
I find myself holding my breath tight inside my lungs, keeping vigil for her before I realize that she's got it and slowly exhale it into the soft shadows.
I hang on her words, her threads dangling in the air and grab on tight.
She brings her story to a close and a round, full-bodied applause breaks out from the audience and fills seemingly ever inch of empty space in the theater.
And the backstage?
The backstage is drenched.
It is drenched with applause, and it is weeping with awe and love
because she has broken the silence with her voice.
She has taken the first threads, added her own and she has begun weaving them all together through gifting us with her own.
The words we've all written about motherhood -- about how it's changed, shaped, grown, morphed us, made us-- come quickly, deliberately thereafter, single thread after single thread added
and then ours.
We are next.
As part of the only duet in the show, I've long realized that this story I'm about to give voice, this thread I'm about to add to the collection, isn't only mine.
It's hers, too.
But it's not until I step onto center stage that I truly realize it's not just mine and hers either.
There is laughter, deep thundering laughter, as we give comedic voice to the loneliness of mothering in our day in age.
And I know, in the laughter, that our stories, our threads have been grasped, they've been picked up and woven together with others
that these stories don't just belong to the people in center stage, the people giving them voice.
The laughter coupled with tears tells a story of its own: that these stories are all of ours
that motherhood has given us all a song swelling in our chest in some way or another
that these threads were meant to be woven together.
Our lives, our stories weren't meant to simply be separate, dangling threads
but rather a blanket of warmth spread across shivering shoulders.
Sunday night in Chicago, I snuggled deep into the comforts of that blanket in the best of company.