However at dinner that first evening, Eileen turned glum as she chatted about her and Manuel’s favourite cruises collectively. She was feeling his absence. “Everybody says cherish the recollections,” she stated as she picked at her fettuccine Alfredo. “I don’t need the recollections. I would like the person.” We modified the topic and reminisced as an alternative about our first Broadway musicals. (Eileen’s: Rattling Yankees; mine: The Magic Present; Ronnie’s: A Refrain Line; Julie’s: Cats.) Eileen needed to show in after dinner, however finally we satisfied her to hitch us for Randy Rainbow’s first present. 

Eileen had by no means heard of Rainbow, a YouTube-turned-stage performer beloved for his satiric reworkings of Broadway requirements. However when he took the stage, draped in pink taffeta, she lit up. She smiled when he burst into “These Have been The Good Previous Days,” from Rattling Yankees, and chuckled on the Mary Poppins-esque “A Spoonful of Clorox,” a redress of absurd remedies for COVID-19. 

“He’s unimaginable!” Eileen raved as we left the theater. What was unimaginable, I assumed, was that we, Eileen included, had been in a position to chortle—onerous.

With Eileen’s demeanor improved, I hoped for clean crusing for the remainder of the journey. However issues acquired rocky round Cape Hatteras, off the coast of North Carolina. The ship reeled, bucked by excessive winds and tough waters. Efficiency schedules needed to be shifted. Eileen by no means will get seasick, however Julie and I felt utterly unmoored—so the mom in her stepped in to ease our discomfort. “Let’s transfer to the center of the ship,” she steered, realizing that it might really feel much less tumultuous on the fulcrum. “And convey the dominoes,” she stated, nodding to Puerto Rico’s nationwide pastime, which we’d usually performed collectively over time. “It should take your thoughts off seasickness.” It labored, and we duked it out till dinner. Manuel by no means performed dominoes, I remembered, and it was good to see Eileen enjoyment of one of many few issues she loved with out him. 

A collective aid settled on the ship the subsequent morning because the seas calmed and we docked in Bermuda. We spent the day ashore, exploring, earlier than heading again to the ship for Kristin Chenoweth’s much-anticipated efficiency. Her transferring renditions of songs like, “You Are All the time On My Thoughts” and “The Means We Have been” introduced Eileen recollections, and tears. She left. After the present, Julie discovered her within the cabin, asleep, as Randy Rainbow looped on the TV.

A beachside lunch was the spotlight of our second day at port. However as a lot as I needed to linger ashore, I used to be extra desirous to get again for Laura Benanti’s efficiency—my unique inspiration for reserving the cruise. Up on the pool deck, she sang the whole lot from a “My Honest Girl” medley to Beyonce’s “Single Girls.” However on the finish, Benanti all of a sudden choked up, saying that she wouldn’t be capable to carry out her second present the next day as a result of a medical emergency. With profound apologies, she exited the stage, and disembarked earlier than we sailed away from Bermuda. 

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