Next to Normal Poem

In May I posted the review of Next to Normal, the Pulitzer Prize winning play about a woman with bi-polar disorder (previous  name :manic-depressive disorder). I saw this powerful play last November, and the female lead, Alice Ripley, was so excellent that I wrote her a poem the next day and mailed it. I did not hear from her, but the letter didn’t come back, so I assume she received it. I thought I didn’t save it, but I did, so I thought I would post it today, with flowers from Victoria, Canada’s Butchart Gardens in between the lines to soften the words. Feel free to return to A Play for May in the May posting.

The Three Faces of Leave
A Tribute to Alice Ripley in Next to Normal

By Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson
November 23, 2009

This sunken garden was once a huge hole that had been quarried by Mrs. Butchart’s husband. Mrs. Butchart transformed it into this!


Part I

You can leave in anger with all its pain

But don’t buy into “no pain, no gain.”

You can leave in sadness with all its tears

For the slow loss of love over many years.

You can leave in Peace, the hardest to do.

I spent eons on that; it’s finally come true.


You can rant and rage, holler & scream.

It won’t change the facts, won’t buy back the dream.

One day you’ll wake up, tired of crying,

Tired of self-pity and tired of lying.


You’ll pick up the pieces left over from grieving

And consider the option you chose for leaving.

Decide then and there to say, “Pain be gone!”

Look into your soul and then move on…


To Life on your terms, rich or poor;

Be kind to yourself, open ev’ry door.

For the world is waiting for your special gift…

That’s been locked deep inside—give the lid a lift.

Part II

I spent years in anger, in sadness & grieving.

I’ve learned there is no easy way of leaving.

Life’s far from easy & not necessarily fair.

Because love & fear* are always there.


Maybe Next to Normal is all you will get.

Grab it, hold it, have not one regret…

For Next to Normal may be what’s REAL.

And when you accept that, you can begin to feel….



Part III

Feel the pain and yes, feel the sorrow.

Know that there’s always another tomorrow

To reach inside and love yourself;

No more hiding on a dusty shelf.


Kick up your heels; brush off the dust.

Live Life in loving, forgiveness & trust.

Your waiting heart is tired of grieving;

No more need to go on leaving.


Next to Normal sounds perfect to me…

Live it! Love it! Let it be!

This fountain at Butchart Gardens was spellbinding because it changed directions and made different patterns.


* In A course in Miracles, Love & Fear are considered the only real emotions.

4 thoughts on “Next to Normal Poem

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