As an actor - for concentrated amounts of time - your cast and crew become your family. Generally from tech week through to closing, they're the people you see the most; the ones you tease, the ones you cuddle, the ones you laugh at/with, the ones you tell to shut the hell up when they're making too much noise backstage.
Five years ago I did another show. We were a tribe. We got naked - both emotionally and physically and the fallout PSD from that show was spectacular. Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth - fallout. Those forged friendships then, bonded some of us together on a cellular level. We were a mess. 5 years ago, right after HAIR closed, one of my best friends died. The last conversation I had with Shannon was my coping with the loss of my onstage tribe.
On Sunday night, I closed Jesus Christ Superstar. Half the cast had also been in HAIR. Same people. Same bonds. Same teasing, cuddling and laughing. I thought that I'd be too busy to fall into PSD. We're moving - take possession of the house this week - my days and nights are full. I am too busy for fallout. Thing is? This time 5 years ago, when I was coping with PSD, I could talk to Shannon. Shannon, The Queen of Commiseration. Shannon, the holder of hands and reminder to breathe. Shannon, the depository of secrets and the safe haven to get through the bad.
I dreamt all night of my tribe... Upon waking, my first thought was "I need to talk to Shannon." My second thought was, "I can't, she's dead." Hiccuping sobs, near to vomiting, as David smoothed my back and told me it would all be okay. He doesn't understand though, that the perfect emotional storm has been set into motion. Tamped-down memories from 5 years ago, compounded with new-felt anguish from the loss of this cast and crew to which was added the remembrance of Shannon's death. My stomach pitched and roiled - I didn't have my sea legs under me until half way through the day.
Stoicism is not amongst my character traits. I immediately reached out to my friends, old and new, who support and 'get' me - those who suffer along with me as we regain our footing and remember that life goes on - even without those you love within arms' reach at your side.