When my dad asked me what I wanted for Christmas I knew exactly what to ask for. “Dad,” I said. “All I want for Christmas this year is to go see Les Mis (the movie) together, just you and me.”
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, has always been something special that my dad and I have shared. If I could find the words to describe what the story of Les Miserables means to me, I could fill a whole slew of blog posts. The themes of love, grace, and redemption that run through its storyline strike deep at my heart no matter how many times I see the show, listen to the soundtrack, or read the book.
I wasn’t sure how the movie version of Les Mis would resonate with me, but when the opening scenes left me teary-eyed over Jean Valjean, I knew that this newfound version of Les Mis would leave its own mark upon my soul.
All of this being said, something new and different struck me after this viewing of Les Mis.
The first time I saw Les Miserables I was 13 years old and I sat on the second row of the Palace Theater in London between my dad and my best friend, Nicci. The Palace Theater is where the stage production of Les Mis originated, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, this experience was one of the most perfect moments of my life.
My family was enjoying the trip of a lifetime touring Europe at Christmastime, and my dad, generous beyond belief, extended this gift beyond family lines by inviting my friend to join us.
I remember the afternoon before the show, how Nicci and I being young and clueless, had no idea what we were about to see. I remember how we dreaded sitting through the ‘boring’ program for hours and hours on end, and how we complained that we couldn’t just stay in our room and watch T.V.
I also remember how later that night we sat transfixed, captured by the music, the words, they story. I remember how we cried and were changed forever.
At 13 I thought that Nicci and I would be friends forever. Oh, how I loved that girl.
But time passed, my family moved, and we both grew and changed. Despite many attempts on the part of me and my dad, I eventually lost contact with my childhood friend.
Now close to 20 years later, I wish I knew where Nicci is, how she is, or how to find her.
I know that these things happen, and are so called ‘natural’ progressions of life, and seasons, and friendships, but somehow the ending of a relationship, so dear to my heart, feels anything but natural.
Since losing contact with Nicci other relationships have come and gone in and out of my life. Some, like my relationship with Nicci, have dwindled with time and distance. Others have broken like a bone with pain, heartache, and the harsh division of differences that could not be overcome. Regardless of its end, each and every relationship has left a history in its wake. A book of memories all its own.
When I watch Les Mis, I think of Nicci and that perfect moment we shared 18 years ago, and I wonder, somewhere in this expansive world, wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, does she watch Les Mis and think of me? I like to believe she does.
One of my favorite songs is When You Think Time McGraw, by Taylor Swift. It is a song that speaks of the desire to see the happy memories of a relationship survive even when the relationship itself is dead.
I think this is a hope and desire we can all relate to. No matter how a relationship with someone you love comes to an end, there are always moments of happy tucked away in our history. Moments that we hope will linger, survive, and keep us connected.
Nicci, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whoever life has made you, when you think Les Mis, I hope you think of me.
And to my dad, a special thank you, not just for the Christmas gift of seeing Les Mis together, but for all the Perfect Moments you’ve given me.