Earlier this week, I saw Come From Away, a new musical, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre for the second time. Back in November members of the Tribute Ladies Auxiliary (TLA) purchased tickets to see the show on March 7 but a few weeks ago, at the gracious invitation of the producers 9/11 family members from the FDNY were invited to attend a dress rehearsal. I invited my “bestest” friend to go with me for a couple of reasons – I always enjoy spending time with her and she has got my back. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect and was a little nervous about it. The TLA getting tickets to see Come From Away was my idea and I wanted to make sure it was okay. I knew the show was a musical based on the stories of the people who were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Okay that sounds bizarre on many levels but I was curious. I figured if I saw a dress rehearsal I could give my fellow Tribute Ladies a “heads up” if anything was too weird.
Let me just clarify one thing, Tribute Ladies Auxiliary (TLA) isn’t a real group or maybe it is the most real group I belong to. TLA is women (mostly retired) who met each other due to our volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Center. We each have a September 11 connection – family member, downtown resident, first responder, survivor or recovery volunteer. Our lives are connected by September 11 but otherwise we probably would never have crossed paths. A few years ago, a couple of the women decided to get to know each other better outside of volunteering and to be tourist in their own city. And thus, TLA was born since then every 6 weeks or so we take a tour. We have visited the Waldorf Astoria, the Cloisters, the Merchants House, the Whitney Museum to name just a few places. The friendships I share with the TLA members are a blessing.
The phrase “Come From Away” is what Newfoundlanders call people who aren’t from Newfoundland. In case you don’t know Newfoundland is an island and is part of Canada. On September 11, 2001 when American airspace was closed 38 planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland. Come from Away tells the stories of the “plane people” and the Newfies. Come From Away is an amazing uplifting show. Personally, I think it is perfect show for this time. It reminds us that we made it through a terrible event with help from our neighbors. One of the last lines of the show is “Tonight we honor what was lost, but we commemorate what we found.”
My bestest friend and I loved the dress rehearsal. I was very excited to see it again with the Tribute Ladies and my daughter. Everyone loved the show. To quote one of them “Come From Away is the essence of our story…our group had a storyline similar to the play, in that there was shock, suffering, dealing with the trauma, but finding our way to healing through each other… I am sad that this is the way we came together, but my life is richer with the addition of these relationships. We did indeed find each other.”
Ditto to that!
I have said many times that to me the story of September 11 is a like mosaic. A mosaic is made up of little pieces of glass or tile when laid next to each other they make the whole picture. The pieces don’t interconnect like a puzzle but they still add to the whole. In the beginning, I only had my story and that was quite enough. But through volunteering at the Tribute Center I know more stories. When I take all those stories and my story and lay them next to the stories of Come From Away I have a better understanding of the whole story.
Go see Come from Away you won’t regret it. Oh, and if you take someone under 25, please make sure they know what happened on September 11, 2001. Share the history and your story with them.