Dance!

New Year’s Eve 1997, my parents were invited to a New Year’s Eve party of their friends at a local hotel in Atlantic City where they all lived. I can only picture these 80-year-olds listening to their favorite big-band music and enjoying a drink or two with good friends.

My mother then he turned to my father and asked him to dance. They hadn’t danced together for at least 20 years, but for some reason my mother decided this would be a good time to do so. And so they danced. I can imagine how they held each other after being married for well over 50 years. I can imagine the sense of familiarity and comfort they found in each other’s bodies out there on the dance floor.

When they got home, my mother went to sleep in the bedroom. My father had a bad back so he slept in a lounge chair in the living room. The middle of the night my mother came out to the living room telling my father she had some terrible pain in her abdomen. Minutes later, she collapsed on the sofa and died. We found out later it was an abdominal aneurysm.

I’ve written elsewhere about what happened when I rushed to the hospital to see my poor father weeping quietly into his brother’s arms and I was led to the back to hold my mother’s hand and say goodbye.

But this story is not about saying goodbye, nor is it even about sadness. This story is about dancing.

Dance because you never know. Dance because it’s fun. Dance because it’s a way to hold and be held. Dance even if you are unable to do so.

May your new year be surrounded with love, life and dance.

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