An audience looking from above
TUESDAY, October 12 – Nerves have proved his undoing. Eamonn is sitting on the floor, leaning against the fridge. His speech is lying on the floor, the speech he wrote a day or two ago and then triumphantly read it aloud at the top of his voice. Now that the time has come to do some serious practicing, he realizes just how difficult public speaking can be.
There are tears in his eyes. I pick him up, give him a kiss and put the new candidate for the student council of his school on the kitchen stepstool. ‘You know what, Eamonn? When I was a kid, I had the same problem. If I had to say something in front of a big group, I sometimes felt as if I was about to cry.’
This confession does away with his fears. He practices his speech. Over and over and over again. Towards the end he even allows himself the liberty of a joke.
‘It will really go over well,’ I promise him. Each ounce of paternal encouragement is a welcome bonus and I give myself a mental pat on the shoulder.
On the way to school I asked him if he was nervous. He wasn’t. His thoughts had wandered off in a different direction.
‘I just pretend that all of this is a play,’ he says.
‘How do you mean, Eamonn?’
‘You know, where the whole world isn’t anything but a stage and we all have our own roles to play.’
Whoa! I need a minute or two to fathom such profound reflections. I reply with a question of my own. ‘Who is our audience, Eamonn?’
That’s easy. ‘Someone up above. Who’s watching our play.’
I can’t think of anything to say except that I wish him lots of luck with his speech in front of the whole class. ‘Just pretend you’re acting in one of your plays.’
All of a sudden I feel the urge to whisper that today Mom is looking down at him, but I bite my lip instead. Inappropriate sappiness. Then I look at him and feel a tear welling up. Not from nerves or sadness, but pride. And love.