Originally I was going to be the picture of restraint with these New Kids posts.”Don’t bore everybody Em, not everyone is obsessed like you” I told myself but as you’ll soon see I have no restraint.
My deepest apologies.
I think you’ll forgive my fan-girling though because there is another back story to that concert that I wanted to share and I think you’ll all agree that it’s far more important than a childhood dream come true.
We went to the New Kids concert at the beginning of July but we bought our tickets last year. At that time Renee, my friend and one of my best NKOTB-partners-in-crime had been recently diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a scary time. It wasn’t clear what her diagnosis meant. What stage was her cancer? What would it mean for her quality of life? The length of her life? It was a time when I kept all your questions on the inside because it was really scary to talk about them out loud. News would come back and it wasn’t good; lymphoma in the marrow, chemo and more chemo.
Things didn’t seem hopeful and I desperately wanted to imagine a hopeful future for Renee. I wanted something for her to look forward to, so when Lisa put out the call for concert tix, I told her “I’m in, get me two tix, one for me and one for Renee”.
If you knew how infamously tight-fisted I am and how expensive concert tix are you would know how desperate I was. I called Renee with the news all fake-cheerful “I think you’ll be done with chemo by then and we’ll go and have SO MUCH FUN!” Ever-positive I could hear her grinning through the phone “Of course we will! I don’t care if I have to go straight from chemo on July 2nd, we’re going to rock it.” In my head I prayed silently “Please God, let her be well by then.” Out loud I said “Of course we will!”
Obviously though, all the magical thinking and concert tix in the world do not make cancer go away. You know what does? Months and months of enduring chemotherapy. Renee finished her last round in June and as I was editing this post I found out that she is now officially in remission.
So now you know that the concert was about so much more than childhood dreams deferred, die-hard fandom or even simple escapism. For me it was about celebrating my friends’ triumph in a first-round well fought. Last fall I honestly didn’t know if we would be able to go to this concert together. I bought those tickets as an act of defiance in the face of an uncertain future.
You can only imagine my joy to be there with her when Joey Mac was hitting the stage crooning “Please don’t girl”. Normally I love to tease Renee, I like to wait until she is totally blissed out and then roll my eyes dramatically while simultaneously poking her in the ribs ( I mean before joining in myself, of course!) But this time when I looked at Renee’s enraptured face lit up with unfettered devotion for her childhood love I felt totally overcome with gratitude for every moment I’ve gotten to spend with that goofball. So I skipped the teasing just that one time. I closed my eyes, looped my arm through hers and hugged her tight because I am so incredibly thankful that she is still here.