Friday, August 2, 2013


** October 31, 2016. Tomorrow I start ballet classes. I was invited by a friend. Despite never taking a dance class in my 40 years of existence I said to her "You know what, life is short so why not just give it a whirl, right?" Am I afraid of all the leotard will reveal about my recently resurrected Netflix & Doritos addiction? Am I a little concerned that I might fall on my face in front of everyone or make a complete fool of myself? Well the odds are pretty good but I'm not afraid. I wrote this post three years ago during a rough time. These past couple weeks I have watched helplessly as others grapple with grief and pain. I have been reminded of the fragility of life & our deep-welled capacity for sorrow but I have also witnessed the resiliency of the human spirit, our ability to sing and celebrate life in the face of loss and adversity, our ability to dance in the rain. RL

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina. It was possibly the 'girliest' thing about me. Most of the time I played in the mud, climbed trees in my ratty jeans and white sleeveless undershirts and went fishing with dad. But still I dreamed of one day being tall, beautiful, lean and graceful like Karen Kane. Living 45 minutes from town and the nearest dance lessons (and we all knew pretty early that I'd never be tall), it was a dream that surely would never be fulfilled .

My dad worked his skinny butt off at the gypsum plant in town. Every year his company gave all the workers an allowance for work boots, small pittance for such hard work but he was a grateful man. While most of the men put their chunky steel toe boots through double duty not only at work but hunting and so on, dad kept his in good shape reserving them for the dusty hard work at the factory. One year he decided to give us girls his gift certificate for National Shoe Store on Broadway, a big name on a small shoe store on an ironically named street in that little town. We hunted through the cramped store trying on pair after pair until I saw them: pale pink leather ballerina slippers. Real ballet shoes! I insisted on getting them and mom caved – I was a force to be reckoned with. My mom even sewed a crinoline tutu for me. I danced on every square inch of available floor in our tiny bungalow in the woods in those shoes. In those moments I felt alive, like anything was possible, like maybe a bony little girl from the woods could grow up to glide across the stage like Karen Kain.

Fifteen years ago when my son was critically ill, I spent my days a long way from home between the children’s hospital and my cramped hostel room across the street. The ICU nurses had to kick me out everyday. Go get some rest, they’d say, go have a shower, we’ll call you when he’s awake. For about a month I lived between those two isolated worlds: the beeps and bustle of the ICU and the deafening quiet of my tiny room. My parents made the trek across the province to be with me for a week. In those days it definitely got louder in the hostel room, especially every blessed night when when mom snored (omg) but I was going a little stir crazy and just plain anxious for my little babe to be well.

As it tends to do on the East Coast, one day, as I was getting ready to go back over to the hospital, the skies, blue seemingly only a moment before, cracked wide open. The rain bounced a foot off the pavement of the parking lot outside and the summer heat seemed to begin to dissipate almost immediately. Something inside me cracked at that moment also. I pushed the screen out of my ground floor window, climbed barefoot out into the downpour, lifted my arms and head to the sky and just danced. There was something therapeutic, something about it that cleansed more from me than the summer heat caked on my skin. I felt alive, like anything was possible, like maybe a very ill little boy could heal and that someday this would all just be a memory.

A few days ago, my sister told me she had written a song for me. Given her talent and our lineage it didn’t really surprise me but I waited anxiously to hear it. What on earth could I have possibly inspired. She’s known me for 37 years so who knows what stories she could tell in song or otherwise... I haven’t seen her in a couple years and being a thousand miles away I am very thankful for technology. I got a link to this youtube video she made of her singing and playing MY song in an email this morning. I was so moved to know she had thought of me but I was soooo not ready for the emotional upheaval that was about to hit when I hit play. It has been a few difficult years for reasons I won’t get into – my sister is one of very few who know what the past few years have brought for me. But she remembered a time when I was stronger, more resilient, when in the face of life changing chaos I would climb out into the rain head high, arms open wide and just dance. I’m not much of a crier but I bawled like a little girl when I watched this today. Never have I felt more loved.  No matter what cloud you are under, I hope you have some good company there and I hope you look up to the skies and dance.

I see the forecast is calling for rain tonight …

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