The Last Dance

img_1254-copy.png
I’ve been watching her dance for thirteen years. I’ve seen her grow from a tiny cherub whose only job was to jump in time while spreading her arms into a tall, graceful beauty who performs leaps and turns that hurt my feet just to watch. A few weeks ago, we attended her last dance. She is graduating and will move on.

From the start, she loved every bit of it: the costumes, the pageantry, the art. Somewhere down the line, it got harder. She learned that perfection requires rehearsal, effort, and repetition. Over and over again they worked until pieces were performance ready. Still she loved it.

Two days a week turned into four and sometimes five. She developed muscle, then willpower to curb her diet. She fought through injuries and the pain that comes from stress and over-use. She fought to become the best dancer she could be. She became a dancer.

In times of joy, in times of grief, in times of unabashed celebration, uncertainty or pain, what does a dancer do? A dancer dances.

3878_77921734674_7962232_n

In losing her little sister to cancer, she proved the importance of dance. She danced through her grief. Dance became her outlet, her solace, and her comfort. She choreographed and dedicated dances to her – pushing through with silent, beautiful art.

She danced.

I’ve seen her get parts she wanted and watched her handle the disappointment of losing with grace.

 

 

At her last recital, she was featured along with the other two graduating seniors in several numbers. They’ve grown up together… become best friends. I believe one of my favorite things, however, was watching her with the baby dancers she now teaches. How incredible that she is now able to pass on her passion to little girls who might perform their last dance thirteen years hence.

In the end, the three danced together as they said goodbye – beautifully mourning the end, yet rejoicing for the years together, and pointing toward the bright futures ahead. The last dance.

31649358_1752554638135682_8662419973370544128_o

But a week later they were asked to repeat their final dance in a church service where it became an offering to the God who created dance. It was lovely to behold with the dark wooden beams above and the stained glass behind them. I went thinking we were lucky to get a bonus performance – a second last dance. But as I watched through tears, it dawned on me that even this isn’t the last dance… because a dancer always dances. Through it all, a dancer dances.

She will graduate high school with honors and has decided to put college on hold to focus on dance. I don’t know how I would have felt about that a few years ago. Maybe I would have thought school too important to delay. But experience has taught me that to follow a passion is far more important what this world says one should do. She has found what she loves at seventeen years old and I envy her that.

This girl of mine… she is a dancer.

And in the end, a dancer dances.

17834230_10212080962843330_4727306899607956532_o

 

 

 

Funday, Bunday

Everyone’s home for summer! At my house that means late nights, excessive noise, empty pantries, and lots of making fun of dopey dad. It also means the home movies come out. We love our home movies. The girls can watch them for hours as if binge-watching a Netflix series. Me, I usually get a little stir crazy after a half an hour and leave to do a chore. When I come back and ask for a recap, they will either roll their eyes at me or give me the Reader’s Digest condensed version of the highlights I missed.

It seems like every time we put one in, I am reminded of some aspect of life that time has washed from my mind. Those films tell stories of good days, before sickness and heartache – when life’s weighty matters were birthday parties, lost toys, and homemade dramatic productions.

DSCN1028 copyOne thing that came to light recently was “Funday, Bunday” and it gave me quite a smile. When our third daughter, JB, was very little, she was testing the waters of ballet. She seemed to love it, but there was one problem. On ballet days, the dancers were required to wear ballet buns to school because there wouldn’t be time to fix their hair between the end of school and rehearsal. Little JB liked dance, but she did not like wearing her ballet bun all day. Her long, curly, beautiful hair has always been a point of pride. Although she assures us that the issue was not vanity but comfort, I am not perfectly convinced.

Her older sisters stepped in. Of their own accord, they volunteered to wear ballet buns to school with JB. This became known as Funday, Bunday and kept JB going when she nearly quit dancing simply because of the all-day bun.

Flash forward to today. Ballet is her life’s passion. She adores it, is incredibly good at it, and will likely continue dancing into college. She even teaches ballet to little dancers in their tiny, tight ballet buns. In fact, I would credit ballet and close friends from her dance studio as the pivotal factor that moved her forward after the death of her sister.

jb

And I wonder… if not for the encouragement of two people she admired, would she have quit?

We laugh at the memory of all of them headed to school with their hair up tight. At the time, her sisters had little understanding of the consequences of this little act. But in the end, it may have been huge.

Do I take advantage of such opportunities? Do you?

I want to be a better encourager.

All of us are given moments when we can go a little out of our way to say a kind word or do something that lifts up another fellow human. Can you and I act on those opportunities to encourage others? If more of us did, what would that look like? We might never see the results of our kindness, but a simple act might literally change the future for someone… like Funday, Bunday did.

IMG_3145