The year 2000 was full of promise for Friendswood resident Amanda May. She had just finished her third year as a musical theater major attending the College Conservatory of Music in Ohio. May had the world in the palm of her hand.
She grew up dancing and singing, taking lessons at the Jill Rauscher School of Dance and Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Webster. She performed in several Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals and graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Not just beautiful, May was funny and full of energy and loved to entertain. It wasn’t unusual for her to twirl and do cartwheels at the drop of a hat.
“She could never sit still — the aisles of grocery stores were irresistible runways for her,” her mother, Jane, said.
May had an angelic glow about her that everyone noticed first; her beauty second. The word “negative” was not in her vocabulary.
“She could take the darkest day and turn it into sunshine,” her sister Meredith Wise said.
Sadly, May became ill with a bacterial-related illness that year that was so full of promise and lost her young life at the age of 21. She left behind many friends and family who decided to turn their grief into a celebration of her life, honoring her with a touching Broadway memorial service.
In April of this year, Angela Gaylor, a college friend of May’s, began an Internet search to find May’s family. Gaylor had something special for them. The Google search led Gaylor to the website of a local writer, who had written about May. The connection was made and Gaylor sent the following email to May’s family:
Dear Mrs. May:
“I don’t know if you remember me but I was one of Amanda’s friends at CCM. I was a year behind her and resembled her in lots of ways. I’m blonde, big-cheeked and struggle with my curves. She was my ‘across the floor buddy’ in jazz and was the girl I looked up to so much. I met you at the hospital where I finally got to say my goodbyes.
Amanda gave me her old ballet slippers when she got new ones. They were full of holes and dances danced, and I couldn’t afford to buy new ones. I mentioned this to you at the hospital where you told me to keep them but I think everything was so emotional you probably don’t remember. After everything happened, we were all affected in different ways. I always felt like she was always with us and the ballet shoes were nice to have.
I wore them to my dance call for the Broadway revival of ‘Oklahoma!’ where I booked my first Broadway show! I truly felt like Amanda would have been in that show, and I was so happy that she got to Broadway in a special way. I also snuck them onstage for a performance of the dream ballet at the Gershwin Theater. They’ve always been my lucky ballet shoes, holes and all.
I would have told you sooner but this was before the advent of social media and I couldn’t find you. I finally contacted the writer’s website and asked for your information. Amanda’s shoes made me realize my dream and in some ways, I like to think hers as well.
Please send me your address. I think it’s time for someone else to have the shoes. It’s time for someone else to have the magic and be guided to the Great White Way. Much love, Angela Gaylor, New York.”
The shoes arrived and now will be an inspiration to Maryn, Amanda’s niece. May their magic live on.