"There are moments that the words don't reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable. The moments when you're in so deep it feels easier to just swim down. The Hamiltons move uptown and learn to live with the unimaginable."
— Lin-Manuel Miranda, It's Quiet Uptown, from Hamilton
I've written about "It's Quiet Uptown" before. It's a song that reaches so deeply into the horror of losing a child, it's hard to believe it sprung from Lin-Manuel Miranda's imagination and empathy rather than real-life experience. He has kids now but his first wasn't even born yet when he wrote this song.
The show premiered off Broadway early in 2015 and the cast recording was released that year. I don't recall exactly when our family became aware of it. But by early 2017, the desire to see Hamilton dictated our Spring Break plans. With our oldest getting ready to graduate high school, it would be the last time for a while we'd all be on the same break schedule.
We planned a trip to Chicago, which has its own production of Hamilton. Family favorite actor Wayne Brady, of Whose Line Is It Anyway, was finishing up a short run as Aaron Burr, a fact that pushed us over the edge. We got tickets for his penultimate performance.
In April 2017, the four of us started off a memorable week in Chicago finally seeing this much anticipated show. We ate deep dish pizza. We figured out how to go where we wanted on the "L." We saw the giant mirrored outdoor sculpture lovingly called "the bean." We went to Navy Pier and took a water taxi over to the museums. We checked out the view from 360Chicago at the top of the John Hancock Center, one of the tallest buildings in the city. We had a great time! And two months later, Rader took his own life. Unimaginable.
My husband and I have been back to Chicago two more times to see Hamilton. We've not yet been to NYC. So actor Miguel Cervantes is 'our' Alexander Hamilton. He originated the role in Chicago and played it all three times we went. He's been singing that song almost daily for years now. Once to our whole family. And William and I clung to one another's hands and wept while he sang it two more times to us, as if we and our unimaginable loss were alone in the theater.
This past weekend, he and his wife, Kelly, lost their daughter, Adelaide Grace, to a neurodegenerative disorder that struck her in infancy. She was almost four years old. She's also survived by her brother, Jackson, age 7. Miguel has stepped away from the role of Hamilton for an unspecified period of time, but said in a statement to People magazine that he would return soon.
There are moments that the words don't reach. I have nothing profound to say to Miguel and the Cervantes family as they are going through the unimaginable. Other than, I see you. I feel for you. As your work helped me in the darkness of my loss, I hope you, too, find yourself enveloped in a grace too powerful to name.
Kelly writes a beautiful blog called Inchstones, available here.