I am thrilled to share that July’s guest blog post has been penned by Miguel. I’ve certainly written enough about him on this blog so its only fair that you hear from him directly. Thanks, babe, for sharing our life through your eyes…
This week was the third anniversary of my first performance in Hamilton. I remember lying down in May of 2016 listening to Renée Goldsberry's beautiful and sad voice singing, "There are moments that the words don't reach…”, from “Quiet Uptown” in Hamilton. I remember feeling the tears falling down my cheeks and I bet many can say they have been in a similar situation while listening to that song. The difference is that I was listening to the song in between my 3rd and 4th auditions for the role of Alexander Hamilton. Also, at that time, I was sleeping on a fold out bed in a hospital room while my daughter was hooked up to what would be her first of many EEG’s. I got the job and we moved to Chicago all while learning just how bad of shape Adelaide was in.
My experience with Hamilton and epilepsy will forever be intertwined. The greatest moments of my professional life in the same pot with the worst days of my personal life. An amazing 5-star entree with a side of shit sandwich and I have to eat it all. I would be lying if I said I haven't often wondered if the Cervantes family is getting cheated. Obviously, we were denied the daughter/sister that we had hoped for, but as I have been thrust into the spotlight as A.Ham, and all the amazing experiences that go along with it, my mind and my heart are never far from the difficult situation that we face every single day at home. What would this Hamilton experience be like if epilepsy wasn’t a part of it? I realize that feeling sorry for myself doesn't do anyone any good. So, instead of feeling cheated, I think the better mind set is to find the deeper meaning in what I'm doing. I won't say silver lining. There is none. If I could give it all up to have a daughter who could run and jump and laugh, I would. I would…throw away my shot. But I can’t, so, I use this Hamilton soap box to fight for her and all the others like her. That's the deeper meaning for me. If my legacy is that I was a good Alexander Hamilton, that's cool. But if some kid with epilepsy doesn't have to suffer because of something we did, thats so much better. Signing autographs after the show I get my fair share of, “THAT WAS AMAZING” or, “YOU WERE SO GOOD”. That is very nice to hear, especially for an insecure actor-type like me. I also get plenty of, “We are praying for your family” and, “How is Adelaide?”. That is pretty great too. The best ones, by far though, are, “Thank you for what you and your wife do. I have epilepsy too.”
At the end of the day, I am a dad that goes to work and has a pretty sick kiddo at home. Some days are hard, some days are easier. When it’s time to leave the house I kiss my son and my wife and I tell them I love them. I go into my daughter’s room and ask her nurse how she is doing. Maybe she is screaming uncontrollably. Maybe she has spent the day sleeping and mostly unresponsive. Maybe there have been several seizures. Or, maybe this day she has been ok. I take all of that with me and head to the office. I pull my hair back, put on a long jacket and then it’s, “What’s your name, man? Alexander Hamilton!”. Just another day on the job. It just so happens that when I finish my job people stand up, clap and cheer. I always say that the folks that really deserve the applause are the parents and caregivers of special needs peeps. They are the real stars. I just run my mouth and move my hands around a lot.
On any given day it wouldn’t be weird if I came straight to the theater from the hospital. Perhaps it was a doctor visit or one of the, all too familiar, multiple night stays to tackle the mysterious problem du jour. My stage manager is quick to respond with, “no sweat” as I let him know I am running a bit late to the theater due to a long chat with the doc. I consider myself lucky that I have a family in the theater. The OG Chicago cast was by my side as we were coming to grips with Adelaide’s condition. Some peeps helped me record “TIL THE CALM COMES” (check it out on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon music or wherever. All proceeds from the song go to CURE btw!). Most of the company members who were with us at the beginning have since moved on to other things. As we have adjusted to our new normal of Emergency Dept visits and seizures, I forget sometimes that some of the new folks may not be aware of the full scope of our situation. An off hand comment about my daughter spending the night in the hospital is met by a “WAIT, WHAT!!!??”. Regardless of how much Cervantes history is known by my current HAMFAM, I always manage to find reasons to smile and laugh, even when I don’t think it is possible, and I am required, BY MY JOB, to cry. Often times that is exactly what I need.
People have asked me if I think of my daughter while I am being "sad" onstage. Sometimes, I do. Every now and then I think of that day in the hospital when I cried while Angelica sang, not understanding what was happening and certainly not knowing what would be in store for the future. But most times I think of my family: of my superhero wife, of my rockstar son, of my warrior daughter. I think of my perfect family. So unbelievably imperfect, but perfect nonetheless.
And sometimes I am thinking about what is for dinner. But that only happens on 2 show days. ;)
Your obedient servant,