Our Town by Thornton Wilder

(The scene in Act Three where Emily comes back to her life and relives the morning of her 12th birthday.  The specifics of the scene are moving.  For example how her parents call for their “birthday girl”.  But here I’ve just included Emily’s words and feelings as she relates to her mother and father and speaks to the “stage manager.”  Such a moving reminder to enjoy each moment on this beautiful earth with the beautiful ones that surround us.)

I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all. Everything. I can’t look at everything hard enough.

Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead. You’re a grandmother, Mama. I married George Gibbs, Mama. Wally’s dead, too. Mama, his appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it—don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another

I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another.

(Emily breaks down sobbing. Mrs. Webb exits.)

I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back…up the hill…to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. (Looks left and then out past audience and then to the right.) Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners…Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

To the Stage Manager:

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?

Stage Manager:



The saints and poets, maybe—they do some.

Today I was reminded of this scene from the play “Our Town”.  I mistakenly remembered Emily as having her 15th birthday rather than her 12th, but no matter.

For today is my youngest son’s 15th birthday.  So I made sure to take his face in my hands and look him in the eye this morning.  I can’t look at him hard enough.  So that at least for one moment in time, in a kitchen before the day runs away, we’d mark it together, and remember this moment, this day, this life we share.

Make sure today to speak of your love and to look those you love in the eye and tell them so.

My prayer:

Oh God, may I realize it and never forget.  May I live like the saints and poets and realize this life while I live it…every minute.  In this moment we’re together and can take the time to look at one another.  Oh my life, you’re too wonderful for me to realize you sometimes.  But for some reason on this day and in this moment, I’ve come to my senses and see and understand.  May this always be so.

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