This morning after breaking yet another glass in two days I couldn’t figure out what was wrong? Why am I so out of sorts and scattered? There has been a deep sorrow hanging over me for no apparent reason.
I finally went online to check my website for spam, and log into FaceBook (which I don’t do very often) and there was the news of the passing two days ago of an Angel of a human being; Stephen Terrell.
He is gone, my heart is broken, and the loss of this dear man, as well as my beloved friend Elizabeth, and the daily crush of bad news has saddened me beyond words today.
“Taken the stars from the night and the sun from the day!
Gone, and a cloud in my heart.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
If I am to pay tribute to Stephen it must be with uplifting joy because he was joyful, and his Spirit will stay with me always, and I will smile every time I think of our times together.
I had the honor and the joy of calling this amazingly talented man a dear friend as well as having the Blessing to work with him when he directed me as Abigail Adams in the enormously successful production of “1776” at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in 2001.
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”
Our friendship was a constant, even when he moved from the Pacific Northwest to take up residency in Boston and head the Emerson College Musical Theatre Program. He mentored and trained many successful performers throughout the years when he was there. This interview, produced by Emerson College; presents Stephen’s deep knowledge of all aspects of theatre, and his devotion to his students who all loved and respected him:
“Take him and cut him into stars that will make the night sky so beautiful
that the entire world will fall in love with the night
and forget about the tasteless sun.
He will make the face of Heaven so fine”
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
A great memory was when Stephen decided he wanted to direct me in my own one woman theatrical show. He used the working title of “Knick Knack Patti Whack” and I wasn’t too keen on the title, but the work we put into the piece was not only demanding, but therapeutic as well. There were many times in the rehearsal room that the emotional demands would be too much, and during one of my break downs he gently but comically said ” she’s having a Patti Melt”! The musical director, and myself just started to laugh uncontrollably since it was a perfect description of my inevitable over loads. I’ve used the term more than a few times when I’ve been overwhelmed trying to learn a role, and it always brings laughter to everyone who has witnessed one of my infamous “patti-melts!”
Stephen would always phone me out of the blue, and we would get caught up with each other, express how much we loved and missed one another, and he always shared his excitement of his new musical discoveries in folk/bluegrass and blues. I always wrote down the names, and then gave him some info on my current favorites. The laughter and good hearted Texas charm he exuded would flow through me, and lift my heart with every phone call.
Oh the memories of love and loss as we journey towards our own inevitable passings. We embrace this Blessing called Life, and are aware that our existence is just a small part of a Universal Force that we know nothing about no matter how intelligent we think we are.
The one solace we have are the loving memories of those who have touched and influenced our lives so deeply. I will hold the memory of this extraordinary man who loved me as I loved him for eternity.
The remarkable photo of Stephen was taken by my gifted photographer husband in our home in Gig Harbor many years ago. Stephen needed a new head shot, and Tom remembers the exact moment he “captured” Stephen’s essence. I am so comforted that the photo is being utilized by so many in their own eulogies to this special soul.
Turn Again to Life
If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone,
who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand
to do something to comfort other hearts than mine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I perchance may therein comfort you.
Mary Lee Hall