Saturday, February 7, 2015

Farewell Peter

February 6, 2015,   

Adam F. Carter, every time I was around you I felt like Wendy must have felt seeing Peter Pan fly into her window. You are youth and life and adventure and when I think of my life in Kalamazoo theatre, you are everywhere. From leaning against the gold spray painted poles of T's Bar to giggling as quietly as possible in the basement of 246 while a donut-binging crowd enjoyed a Late Night, you were everywhere. I feel like someone just told me that Peter Pan died. Because it's not possible. He's second star to the right and straight on til morning. And so are you. To me at least. You'll never grow old, you will never die. I love you Great Pumpkin. I will miss you.

I met Adam Carter 10 years ago after seeing him perform in the show Psycho Beach Party. He was beautiful, legs for miles and cheekbones that Michaelangelo himself couldn't have carved better.  Adam was my Peter Pan.  He was all of Kalamazoo's Peter Pan.  Everyone felt younger, happier, more energetic and more alive when in his presence.  But he was better than Peter Pan because he was real.  We became instant friends when we performed for two magical years in Trevor's adaptation of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  The Great Pumpkin Massacre saw me as Lucy and Adam as the Great Pumpkin, a pumpkin-man serial killer intent on plucking off all of the Peanuts, one by bloody one.  It is no stretch to say that this show became an instant cult classic of the Kalamazoo theatre scene.  It wouldn't have been without Adam.

Adam was in a galaxy all his own.  He was the sun and so many of us were happy to orbit around him for a little while.  The magic of my friendship with Adam was that he made me feel like the sun.  I'd go weeks or months without seeing him, especially once I stopped performing, but when he'd see me across a room, he would stop, grab his heart, and come clip-clopping across the floor in his fantastic shoes with arms outstretched to embrace me.  As I type those words, tears stream down my face.  Oh that we were always so free with our affection for one another like Adam was.  How beautiful this world would be if we made everyone feel like the sun when they came into a room.  He could have swooped me up and flown me to Neverland and I would have gone.

And after the warm embrace, he would greet you in telegram~

Nancy.  Stop it.  That scarf.  Love.  Amy Poehler's book?  OMG.  Had to put it down.  Loving. So. So. Much. Coffee?  Yes, please.  Kisses.  Love.

But his economy of words was a sharp contrast to the boldness and effervescence of his life.  And because this blog is for my boys to someday understand what their mom took away from her own experiences, there are a few things I want them to learn from my experience in losing him.


I'm so sorry boys, but I've got nothing.

Nothing about this makes sense or seems real.  You see, Adam Carter was my Peter Pan, but I always hoped he would grow up.  I hoped he'd be a fabulous old man draped in caftans and oversized sunglasses with a shock of silver hair swirled up in a pompadour.  But we won't know that Adam.  He is now permanently 31 in our hearts and minds.  Kalamazoo's Marilyn or James Dean, frozen in the bloom of youth.  And somehow the death of him means the death of my youth.   He was the one person who could take me back to those fearless, carefree days of Late Night theatre and 2am Taco Bell feasts eaten while laughing at YouTube videos.  Some huge door has slammed on the life that was before and I don't know who will be able to take me back there again.  I'm Wendy standing next to a dark window.  

He had moved on in so many ways and found so much success.  But there was a North Star quality about him that made him feel steady and constant.  So many of us got married, had babies and stopped performing, but there was Adam, seemingly unchanged (except for his ever-changing hair).  He'd pop up at the Alamo Drafthouse, the Union, Art Hop, the Civic, always looking radiant and always greeting you like the sun had just popped out of a cloud.  As long as Adam was around, so were the memories of those sweet days.

Adam's current Facebook cover photo is of this tree, frozen in the stillness of winter. And I marvel at how fitting it is now that he is permanently frozen in time for all of us.  He will never grow old, he will never die.  His light will outlive his life.  So that is the lesson for my sons.  If there is one thing I want people to say about my boys when they die it's that.  That their light lives on long after they're gone.  

On Thursday February 5th as I was driving the boys to daycare, I was startled to see the full moon looming large and bright at 7:45am.  Within seconds, the moon began a dance with a sea of lavender clouds dipping in and out of view.  The clouds swirled while the moon slowly hid its face.  It was like a can-can dancer whose billowing lilac skirts teased us until the show was over.  The image was magical and wonderful and now I know that Thursday was Adam's last day on earth as we knew him.  And maybe, just maybe, the heavens were readying themselves with a final dress rehearsal for his glorious return.  Adam who is made of stardust now returns to the stars.  And I would expect no less from the heavens than to welcome him in full Moulin Rouge can-can realness.

And it's up there in those lavender clouds drifting silently among the stars that Adam will be waiting for us.  Forever 31 (he would love the chance to ruminate about what kind of clothing a Forever 31 would sell).  And when my time comes, I sort of hope I'm greeted just like this...

Nancy.  LOVE.  Finally.  OMG.  Carousels.  Heaven has carousels.  Could you die?  Wait. You did! Ha! Hugs. Kiss-kiss. Who do you want to meet?  I know everyone.

Second star to the right and straight on 'til  morning.
So many Wendys standing near their windows tonight wishing you'd come back.


  1. What a beautiful tribute. Heaven is celebrating for their gain, while we cry.

  2. Thank you, Nancy, for putting into words what my heart feels now. There will always be a part of Adam in us all!

  3. Beautiful tribute. Tears streaming while remembering him, just as you described. Thank you for sharing, Nancy.

  4. I didn't know Adam. But now I do. Very sorry for your loss. A lovely tribute.