The First Timer In Ballroom Dancing 101
(penned August 19, 2008)
Thursday evening the first pangs began. I fought it off, busying myself with work and family. I felt the twinges again early yesterday upon learning of my friends passing. Then the message was “Learn To Dance In The Rain” and I fought off the cloud. I told Rev. G. R. Travis at the close of service that I was going to plagiarize him and he laughed. I was awed by each story he relayed. He explained that life can’t be all sunshine or we’d have no leaves on the trees, no buds nor fruit bearing. Life would be all desert and wasteland. It has to storm, things have to get wet for growth. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” was the quote he took his subject from. His story about much revered President Ronald Reagan stuck with me. As a young man he dropped out of college and took a job with a construction company. The first day of work, it stormed so badly, all employees were dismissed before the day even got started. His girlfriend who was starting college that same day asked him to go hang out with her at the school since he was rained out. He made contact with a Coach who convinced him to start classes that very day. It’s said that President Reagan always wondered what twists and turns his life would have taken had he begun construction work instead of college classes. The storm was the deciding factor in the path his life took. Rainbows only come after the storm. While typing this very moment, even though I heard him clearly yesterday, I’m tempted to type yada-yada-yada. But I will resist.
Today has been a storm. A text message early in the day caused stress. I desperately tried to continue my friendship with the mailman, though he brought news I simply did not need. I ate a biscuit and gravy for breakfast, something I have avoided for some time now. I stopped at a clients to pick up a box and when the sweet gentleman loading it for me opened the back door of my vehicle, out tumbled the glass top to my favorite drink dispenser. Yes, it crashed and splintered into many pieces. At that point, I really wanted to ask the big man above why He’d let that get broken! After all, I was hauling the thing after using it for a church function.
I have to attend a wake this evening, then the funeral tomorrow and my heart has a large counter weight on it, as if it were attached to a crane. Memories of crushing grief in recent years feel fresh and new. The loss of my uncle, father, then aunt to the same dreaded disease haunts me. I dread looking into the eyes of my friend who tomorrow buries her Mother. An even deeper dread consumes me when I think of putting on an encouraging face. I, the one never at a loss for words, feel speechless. I lost both grandparents in the last year, and my friend also lost her grandmother recently. My friends Mother was pure sunshine. Being an only child, she will experience loneliness I can’t fathom. I had siblings during my time of loss. Yet another fact to lift my spirits. How do we as humans cope with such deep seated loss? How do we as friends express our yearning to make things easier for them all the while knowing it’s a rugged personal path she must walk?
I have purposely reflected over my life for the last couple hours. I’m blessed beyond measure. Yet, no matter how many times I say it, no matter my thought processes on the good, a dark cloud shadows me.
It’s time to dress for the wake. I’ll wear a favorite black ensemble, even put on the red patent heels for my psyche. But sometimes, you just have to bear it. No amount of cajoling, soaking in a bubble bath, pinning a big flower in my hair, sipping from a crystal stem, perusing a new hardcover on design, not even airline tickets to Sydney in my hand will cure this ill. (I’d sure like to try the airline ticket thing just to confirm it wasn’t a cure though.)
I’ve made a decision. I shall dance. I am going to twirl, pick up my feet, and make ballerina motions with my arms. I’m sure I’ll look like a first timer in Ballroom Dancing 101. Picking up my feet will be painful, but must be done. My movements will be disjointed and clearly not smooth. It will be obvious that it’s not something I want to do nor an enjoyment for this moment in time. It won’t be beautiful or right when I initially begin. The water on my face may not be all moisture from the storm, but at least I will be dancing.
I’m going to learn to dance in the rain.