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For Good

“I've heard it said, That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those Who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true But I know I'm who I am today Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun, Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood. Who can say if I've been changed for the better But because I knew you I have been changed for good."

(Stephen Schwartz – “For Good” from Wicked)

I will let you in on a little secret about myself and be a bit vulnerable at the same time. I love Broadway musicals, and it has been a dream of mine to sing on a Broadway stage.

At this stage in my life, I realize that is not going to happen, and I am okay with that. Obviously, my life has taken a different path. My Broadway experiences will only be from a theatre seat (when I am really lucky) or, more likely, from listening to my iTunes playlist.

I have seen a handful of Broadway shows in my lifetime. Wicked is not one of them, though it is still on my hope-to-see list. In 2003, Kristin Chenoweth played the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway version of Wicked. It was her voice that drew me to the music of this show.

Stephen Schwartz is the musical genius behind Wicked. Of all the masterfully crafted songs in this show, “For Good” is the one that’s melody and lyrics found its way into my heart. It is a song that stands as a tribute to people's influence in our lives. It is about forgiveness and gratitude for the imprint that they leave on our lives.

“For Good” is the second to last song in the musical where Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, who turns into the Wicked Witch of the West, say goodbye for the last time. The idea for the song came when composer Schwartz had a conversation with his daughter. He asked her to consider what she would say to her best friend if she knew that she would never see her again. The first verse of this song is based on his daughter’s words.

The song is about the impressions that people leave in our lives after we say goodbye. It’s about how they change us and form us “for good,” which can have a double meaning. It can mean for the better, or it can imply forever.

Just a month ago, on a hot July Sunday afternoon, my siblings and I said goodbye to our mom. She told us that she was going home on a Sunday, and after a year-long battle with declining health and dementia, she did go home…on a Sunday just as she said she would. We said goodbye for the last time in this lifetime.

In the days since her death, I have reflected on the impressions she has left behind – the imprints that mark our hearts because we knew her as our mother – the ways we have been changed “for good” because of her nurture, care, and love over our lives.

Standing beside my mother as she passed from this world into the presence of God was a sacred space. I thought of all the times that she stood with me. Some of those times were beautiful and some simply were not. It is a sacred space, this kind of relationship where acceptance and love never give up – where beauty and perfection aren’t required – where ego and resentments don’t exist. This is a space for people who really see you. They are the ones who change you “for good.”

As the song unfolds, Elphba sings words that I offer up to my mom with deep gratitude and pray that she knows…“So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.”

I hope you will take a moment to listen to this song by using the link below. As you listen maybe you will remember someone whose handprint is on your heart - someone whose goodness has made you better and stronger.


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