I hate Born for Broadway.
Take a moment. Let that sink in. Perhaps call Bellevue Hospital and reserve me a room.
It’s true. In many ways, I hate the show I created 11 years ago, an annual event that’s become a cause.
I love how far this once-small student cabaret has grown; I love that over 100 Broadway performers have donated their time. I love our beneficiary organization, the hardworking men and women fighting for a cure.
I love what the future portends for BFB.
And I hate Born for Broadway.
I hate that for the second year in a row, due to a faulty wheelchair replaced with an even faultier update, my quadriplegic brother likely won’t be able to come.
I hate that I can do so much with this event, a cause entirely inspired by and devoted to Jeff, and I can’t fix what’s broken.
I can’t fix the chair, I can’t fix his spine. No matter the songs sung, the crowds in seats, I cannot fix him.
It’s deeply unfair.
I do this show for Jeff, and raise funds for spinal cord injury causes because of him.
We raise attention for the 5.6 million Americans living with paralysis, including several of the performers in our show, and Jeff won’t be there to bear witness, because I can fix a lot but I cannot put the broken pieces of my brother back together.
The powerlessness is overwhelming as I work on an event two weeks away. I have control over this. I have none over that.
I wish I could fix him. I hate that I can’t.
The blood boils and rages and seeps through my body. I’m so pissed and I’m hurt and I weep and I’m mad.
I find out several prominent stars have joined our cast, and I nearly dance.
I start to breathe. October 13, 2014, will mark the 5th time celebrities and stars gather for BFB.
I love them, and I love the hundreds who will attend, the denizens who will donate in their absent stead. The families and friends from my Rhode Island hometown who will travel hours to pay witness.
And yet. I’m back.
Jeff cannot be one of them, can’t be there, and I hate it.
I can’t fix his chair, or him. I hate the inaction I own.
I hate that paralysis exists, that this show doesn’t donate to a butterfly sanctuary or a puppy picnic instead. That we have to raise funds that will absolutely fall short of the massive amounts needed to create the change I crave. I hate that it won’t be enough.
I hate and yet I continue. I sacrifice whatever I have to make this show occur every year, to shine a spotlight on an empty seat. I do this and I hate with every fiber of my being that the most important person won’t be there.
I hate the lack of power to change his life, but I will work forever in hopes one day it will. One day he will be there, one day he will be even slightly better. The research is getting stronger, the science is growing more clear. One day, the chair will work.
One day it will be better.
A smart man said, “A person can endure and yet not prevail; a person who prevails has probably had to endure a lot along the way; and a person who is not willing to endure will probably never prevail.”
And I think of what my father sacrificed in order to live the words he said, in order for my family to somehow prevail. What he and my mother had to glue together in order for us to not entirely break apart.
Here we are, existing, enduring, powering through. Broken pieces connecting love, keeping us alive. We live.
I hate that this event needs to exist, and that hate gives me the drive to make sure it does. That a community crying out will be heard.
I hate that I can’t do more. So we do, and should.