I wonder if ants have names or can tell each other apart. When they form their lines and begin marching, do they have a predetermined order or destination? They always seem to have a purpose. If you have ever put your foot in their way to stop their progress, you will know that they don’t stand still, rub their chins disconcertedly, or hold an impromptu meeting to vote on a direction. No, they turn right or left and keep moving as if it had been their plan all along.
Sometimes, you just have to move to avoid being still.
* * * * *
When Kylie’s radiation treatment started in Charlotte, she and her mother (along with her grandparents) drove up every Monday and returned on Friday. We all three knew it was the best option – likewise we knew the separation would be hard. The worst part about being a parent of a cancer patient is being a spectator to their suffering. When her chemo was here at least I could watch, hold, and support. During those four days every week, the separation was more brutal than I ever imagined.
I needed a project and one presented itself. Kylie informed us that when her leg worked again, she wanted to take stage dancing lessons. This gave me an idea to finish a room in the basement with a raised dance floor so that she could practice. We had acquired a pool table long ago that could share the space, so construction began.
I love building. The work occupied my time and my mind while Kylie was gone. When they arrived home for the weekends, I would shut the doors and she never knew. I started to get so excited about the impending surprise.
Then a giant foot slammed down and changed our direction. Unlike a line of ants changing direction, our line stopped completely. Kylie died. She wouldn’t need a 12’ by 12’ dance floor because she attained a celestial ballroom of unlimited proportions.
Construction halted on the room. I stopped moving.
* * * * *
I’m a little dense, but at some point a few months later it dawned on me that one of Kylie’s sisters is a dancer and could profit from the space. I started thinking that if I would build it for Kylie, I should build it for JB – I am no less her daddy. With that in mind, I started moving again. I didn’t “move on” – I will never move on. But I did start moving.
The room went from a tap studio to a ballet studio where JB could practice.
The room got repurposed.
It certainly has a Kylie flair with the yellow but its purpose is ballet (and occasionally billiards).
* * * * *
There are some very special things in this room I would like to share:
And the piece de resistance:
I love this room! It simply breathes Kylie. But it now serves a different purpose than its original intent.
Like the room, I’ve been repurposed. I thought my life was headed one way until the foot slammed down and pushed me in another direction. Ants may have contingencies and predetermined directions, but I don’t. I admit that I don’t know exactly where this repurposed life is going. I do know that moving again feels so much better than standing still contemplating my loss.
You might have noticed some changes in my blog as it has joined my new direction. Before the foot came down, most of what I did was an (often meager) attempt at humor. The foot changes everything, I will never be the same. While I certainly still see humor in life and will share it, I have now experienced my portion of tears and when I have openly reflected on my sorrow it seems to have resonated with others. There are so many hurting people out there. Don’t worry, I won’t quit doing dumb things that make people laugh – I’ve got to stick to what I do best.
The question is, can laughter and tears in generous portions coexist?
(ant photo credit to L. Church used under the Collective Commons)