12/11/18 #SameHere Hero: Mel Abrantes

Today’s #SameHere Hero: Mel Abrantes (our first From Brazil).


English is Mel’s second language, yet when you read his words, someone who is still in HS, you are amazed by his eloquence. He takes a very complex topic – the loss of someone so close to him, & describes his experience in a way we all can relate to. Coming off of the post from last night about togetherness & community, in healing, Mel has certainly found his own form of community & healing through his choir & performing arts group. This is a beautiful story that still has much to be written.


“As a kid, I would love seeing my grandma. We lived together, which might make it seem like it was less crucial to my personal growth than it truly was. However, the detail that speaks most about our closeness, is that she was the one who introduced me to my love of art.


Not only was she the person who backed up my long-term obsession with reading & writing, but she also bought me my first guitar & heard my first songs. My grandma was the first & last person to hear me truly laugh, which makes it understandable how much her death has taken a toll on me over the last five years.


Regardless of her depression or my ever growing emptiness – that which I now call a lethargic & apathetic mixture of borderline personality disorder & anxiety, our time together had the same result as therapy. It leads both of us into a deeper understanding of ourselves &, most of the times, into the smile that made me wake up early in the mornings so that I’d be able to talk to her before the school bus arrived at our home – or the sun started to shine.


Although unfathomable, part of her being meant, to me, a kind of friendship I’d never find elsewhere. A friendship built upon respect, learning, understanding & caring; all of which are fundamental ingredients to the bedrock of meaningful healthy relationships. This is why I was so bewildered when I came across the choir at my school. Regardless of how attractive a group of singers had always been, I never thought I’d find, in them, a family to call my own. Neither did most of them, as a matter of fact.


The school choir started out as a group of almost eight students & two passionate teachers, who worked ceaselessly for no recognition whatsoever. I was, unfortunately, was not one of those early students. I joined because of one of them. A new friend, who wanted the choir to thrive & saw the need for new voices. By the time I auditioned, it had already grown bigger, but the bond hadn’t been formed. We sang together on Friday afternoons & presentations, only to part ways afterward.


I am not sure when the transformation happened. Suddenly, a larger group of friends joined & other people were brought along & together until we had built a choir. Many left, many more came, but ultimately, we built our own family, brick by brick.


Many of us face our own personal hells; be it problematic households, depression, anxiety, OCD or oppression for being female, black or LGBT. But playing characters in musicals, singing our throats dry & screaming bad words before any presentation has made us stronger. For every break, we’d run to the school’s auditorium to play piano, for every Friday we stayed longer to prepare for a show, for every time one of us left rehearsal early because they were in a bad place & another followed to make sure they didn’t have to be there alone. For all of the tears I know I can shed because they will be there for me & I will be there for them. In a way, we are all soft. But there is strength in unity & there is strength in the family we choose for ourselves.


There is no replacement for a loss. But there is the construction of a new roof to feel safe under. That makes me sure that my grandma would be as proud of me, as I am of being her grandson when writing these words.


That is why we plan on writing the musical of 2019 under the theme of Mental Health. So that others will know how it is, be educated &, most importantly, to ensure that whoever watches it knows that we are there for them, inside or outside of the musicals. So that people know that they will not be left alone, & to make sure that each & every person that walks out of the theatre knows that they are not alone in their own fights, #SameHere. This is what this family stands for.”

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