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Eliza Hamilton Honors Her Deceased Husband

Like many people, I watched Hamilton on Disney+ as soon as it started to stream. I’d seen the play before, but this time I felt emotional as I listened to the lyrics of "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story," especially as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, sang:

[Burr:] But when you're gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story? . . .

[Women:] Eliza

[Eliza:] I put myself back in the narrative . . .

I live another fifty years . . .

And when my time is up Have I done enough? . . .

Oh, I can't wait to see you again It's only a matter of Time

[Company:] Will they tell your story? (Time…) Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? . . .

I have a chapter in my book called Please Honor & Remember Him. I discuss how I want to memorialize my husband, so he won’t be forgotten. I discuss how Queen Victoria built monuments for Prince Albert, and Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal to honor his deceased wife. Eliza Hamilton founded orphanages and spoke out against slavery to honor her husband. And in this song from Hamilton, she asks, “And when my time is up have I done enough?”


When she sang that lyric, I felt the tears. Have I done enough? Am I doing enough? I want to make sure my life matters—that somehow, someway I contributed. I also want my husband's life to have mattered; I want to honor him and make him proud. I think perhaps the reason I felt emotional when I heard those lyrics was that I recognized and empathized with Eliza’s need. And the truth is that I don’t feel like I do enough or have done enough—not just to honor Reg’s memory but to really contribute. I don’t expect to make as big of a difference as Eliza. But, I think my soul knows maybe it needs to be doing more.

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© 2019 Kim Murdock