February 28, 1997 – Friday – 10:25 a.m.

Oh God, what is happening here?

We had a wonderful Bible Study last night.  After it was over, Abigail and I talked for the longest time.  She told me what was on her heart.  She is one of the very few people here who can understand the spiritual side of me.  I grow closer to her each day.  I fall more each day.

Only two more months though.  But I want her to leave.  She is trapped here.  Stuck.  In Nashville she can grow as a Christian artist and I want what is best for her.

February 27, 1997 – Thursday – 10:00 a.m.

Today is Curtis’ 21st birthday!

On Tuesday, Jessica and I went for a long hike to the top of a nearby mountain.  We had a good time.  She’s so delightful to spend time with and has such a bright future ahead of her.

Last night, or rather all of yesterday, Abigail…well she…she has become a very dear friend.  We continue to grow closer.  Last night Jeni and she and I prayed again together.  Abigail rested her head on my knee and ran her thumb up and down my fingers as she held my hand.

She has me.

I wonder if she knows it.

Four years ago, I was questioning love.  Veronica was on my mind.  And in reality, I had no idea.

Four years.

Veronica, Ryan, Christi, Jenna, Tenielle, Jeni, Emily, Syndi, Laura, Abigail…

These are the girls who have taught me the most.

Not only have I touched her face, but she tells me that I have touched her heart.  She is not another Ryan or Christi, she is simply my Abigail.  This list will continue to grow and no name will ever disappear.  I want our goodbye to be painful.  I want this to hurt.  I need this to hurt.

I need to share my heart.

February 25, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:30 a.m.

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’ve been up for over an hour.

Last night, around 9:00 p.m., Jeni calls me up and asks me if I would like to go on a walk with her and Abigail.  Of course, I said, “yes.”

I brought two flashlights and the three of us went to the treehouse.  The was there was delightful and fun.  Once in the treehouse, Abigail told me what had been pressing upon her heart.  She wants to sing, sing for the Lord, and Lees-McRae doesn’t offer a purely vocal performance major.  Abigail is considering a school in Nashville.  She feels God is calling her there and in two months, she might be gone.

The words tore holes in my heart, but I felt God’s peace.  I was becoming attached to her, so it was bound to happen.

The three of us prayed and Abigail thanked God for me and my inspiration.  She looks up to me and calls me her role model.  After we prayed, I asked her if she would like to sing.  I laid my head upon her shoulder and her voice filled the air:

“Oh Lord, you’re beautiful

Your face is all I seek.

For when your eyes

Are on this child,

Your grace abounds to me.”

So, in a couple of months, I will say goodbye to Jeni, Curtis, and Abigail.

Life is simply a collection of greetings and farewells.

There are times though, when I wish it wasn’t.

February 24, 1997 – Monday – 11:10 a.m.

God is so good.

He has given me everything.  I love him with my life.  He knows me better than anyone else.  He knows my rights and my wrongs.  He knows my weaknesses, yet he still loves me.  He knows everything I am going through and he loves me nonetheless.

God, I know you will never let me go.

Thank you for Abigail God.

Thank you for Jeni, Tracey, Jessica, Ann-Marie, Vince, Dan, Allen, Curtis, Josh, and Timothy.

You are my life.  You are my light.  You are my love.

You are my everything.  I need nothing but you.

I am yours.

Yours forever.

February 23, 1997 – Sunday – 12:43 a.m.

Today (Saturday) was wonderful.  And the evening was one of the greatest of the semester.

For dinner, Tracey, Ann-Marie, Lindy, Jessica, Alex, Abigail, and I went to Mr. Angel’s house.  They invited us over to their newly built house.  It was so beautiful inside.

Abigail and I really seemed to click.  Since seven of us were packed into Tracey’s car, two of our group had to sit up front with Tracey.  In order to get shotgun in Tracey’s car, you have to say it in French.  Tracey taught me how to say it and Abigail is the only other person who knows how to say it.  So the two of us were squeezed next to each other and it was so much fun.  I love the way she laughs.

We ate pasta for dinner; so delicious.  Everyone just talked for so long.  We played the laughing game, the cup game, and even the “This is a what?” game.  The whole time Abigail and I just seemed to be talking back and forth to each other.

When it came time to leave, she hollered out “Shotgun!” in French and immediately looked at me with big, waiting eyes, hoping I would say it as well.

I did.

On the way back, Tracey reached over and started rubbing the top of my head because her hands were cold.  Abigail said, “Hey, why is no one rubbing my hair?”  So, I reached over and ran my fingers through her hair.  She leaned her head forward and I ran my fingers up and down her neck and the back of her head.

And this continued for a couple of perfect, eternal moments.

She lifted her head back up and we didn’t say anything.  There was silence, and peace, and contentment.  It was wonderful.

Oh Abigail, I pray God takes care of you and gives you the desires of your heart.

February 20, 1997 – Thursday – 12:05 p.m.

Emily called me last night.  Something has happened.  Brandon, her ex-boyfriend, beat her up Sunday afternoon.  Her face and body are covered in bruises.

We talked for so long.  She feels so empty, sad, and betrayed.  Nothing makes sense to her now except for me and I am hundreds of miles away.  But even though she was in such need, she gave me her heart and spoke encouragement to me.  I gave her my heart as well and after a hour of sharing our love for each other, we both felt much better.

I finally got off the phone with her, a brief moment of silence past, and I couldn’t keep it in any more.  I burst into tears and cried and cried for my long lost love.  I wished I was there to kiss all her bruises away.

I walked over to visit with Jeni, Tracey, and Ann-Marie.  They comforted me.

Something else seems to be happening.

Thursday afternoon I went rock hopping with Jessica.  We had a wonderful time together.  And there are also several girls on campus who keep stopping and smiling at me.  It’s happens several times every day.  I think it is because of the show.

And I don’t know, but today at lunch Abigail and I had an amazing conversation.  We talked about relationships, love, and purity.  She is striving to become a woman of God.  I can see her desire and it is so attractive.  She is unlike the other girls in her secret inner life.  She is unique and I adore her.

And so here I stand.

The closest person to me on the planet is covered in pain and sadness, but also in my love, at least the love I can give over the phone.  Beautiful strangers are smiling at me all the time.  Jessica’s company is a wonderful gift.  And Abigail grows and matures more and more each day.

I know nothing, save this one thing:

Love is everything.

February 18, 1997 – Tuesday – 1:10 p.m.

A year ago this time, my hand was in a cast and I was preparing for Bearclaw.  Now, my finger is crooked and I’m a year older.

The day is warm and beautiful.  There is not a cloud in the sky.  Now that the show is over, it’s hard to know what to look forward to.  Spring Break is in 2 1/2 weeks.  Then there is only seven weeks left of school.  I still don’t know what the summer holds.

For my senior year, I will simply focus on directing.  I’m looking forward to it.

Two of my classes were cancelled yesterday, so Sharon took me out to eat and we had the greatest talk in the world.  I love that woman so much.  She is my angel.

February 17, 1997 – Monday – 1:45 a.m.

It is over.

Today’s show was wonderful.  My whole family came, as well as Charlie, Kate, Abigail, Jeni, Tracey, and so many more from church.  Now it is over.

I did it.  This was easily the biggest acting challenge yet and I did it well.

Carla, Curtis’ friend from Atlanta, called me tonight.  We had a wonderful talk.

It feels like I just turned 20, but six months have already past.

What role will I play next?

It seems I can’t get to sleep tonight.

Life…this sure is pretty cool.

February 16, 1997 – Sunday – 1:30 a.m.

Something has happened to me.  Children of a Lesser God has changed me.  For the past month I put so much of my time in becoming James Leeds.  And in about 16 hours, it will be over.  I’ve learned so much.  Mark is such a true professional director.  He taught me the world.  He let me be an actor.  He trusted me.

There was an article in the paper, where Mark said, “Children of a Lesser God is a play about human rights, discrimination, and modern society’s reluctance to care.  Though the play focuses on the deaf culture, its ramifications can be applied to all forms of discrimination and ignorance, from racial issues to sexual orientation to religious preference.  It reveals the root of intolerance as based in the ignorance and apathy of human beings and their unwillingness to take time and energy to explore and understand an issue before they condemn its existence.”

Whew.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I seem different.  This play has matured me.  Even aged me.

Dana and Bradley came tonight, as did Dan and Allen.  They were impressed.  Strangers came up tonight and asked me how I memorized the whole show since I never left the stage.  To not only learn my lines, but to learn Sarah’s lines, as well as sign language.  I’m glad they noticed, but it didn’t seem all that hard, I just really wanted to do it and asked God to help me.

Dawn has been a delight.  To play a person who fell in love with a person she played.  No matter who I am, some version of me will always miss that time we were married on stage.

My dad came and seemed impressed, “Hard to believe that was you,” he said.

Thank you Mark Medoff for writing such a beautiful play.

It’s hard to know what I’m feeling.  Only one performance left.  Kevin is coming with the rest of the family.

So, where do I go from here?

What do I do now?

This love is leaving me.

I will be left alone with free evenings and no one to kiss.

February 13, 1997 – Thursday – 8:45 a.m.

The show opened last night.  It was a good show.  I went out into the audience afterward and a little boy came up to me.  His hands were in front of him, moving rapidly.  I realized that he was deaf and he was asking me my name.

I spelled my name out with my hands, and then I asked him his.

C-A-R-L, he spelled back.

He was really deaf.  And he was talking to me.  He was beautiful.  He instantly became so happy because the star of the show was talking to him.  Then the other deaf children saw us talking and they all came up to me.  I signed my name for them too and then signed, “Thank you for coming.”

Then one boy came up to me and spelled his name out.  It was long and he signed it very fast.  Then he touched his chest rapidly, “That’s me!” he said.  And he was so happy because I knew his name, but he did it too fast.  I didn’t get it.  And that hurt me.

All of these little kids had never heard music before.  They were real.  They weren’t actors.

They were really deaf, and they wanted to talk to me, but I just memorized my lines and a bit of the basics of sign language.  I couldn’t keep up with them.

I went into my dressing room, looked in the mirror, and cried.