Of all the strange places my recent life has taken me, this has to be the strangest. I am sitting in lobby of a convalescent home, waiting for my father to wake from a nap. He’s only here for five days to get intravenous antibiotics to help treat a bout of pneumonia, but the few hours I’ve spent visiting him have made me realize how incredibly lucky I am.
I can walk with a straight back and easy gait. I can breathe unassisted. And oh! I feel so very young. I know this is a temporary condition. If I live long enough, I’ll be as old and decrepit as these folks, but for now, I’m thankful for what youth I have left, for the joy that now comes at increasingly frequent intervals, for the capacity to taste what I eat and drink, for the ability to write and laugh and dance.
Strangely, not only do I feel good, people often mention that I look good, too. Some even say that stress becomes me. The wonder is that I can deal at all with the horrendous stresses of my life — an ailing, aging father and an insane and insanely drunk brother who has spent the past several hours bellowing at me. I am blessed to have wonderful and patient friends who will listen to my horror stories, sometimes for the second and third time, and who will offer hugs when I need them. I have this blog, of course. But mostly I have dancing.
We all need vacations from ourselves and our problems, but when we go on trips, we take ourselves with us. When we dance, especially choreographed dances, we leave ourselves at home. We become the music, the motion, and something else — part of a dancing whole. As the teacher keeps reminding us, we need to do everything in unison — one body, one mind, one soul. When it works, when we know the dance and are in perfect sync, it’s magic. For just one moment, we become more than we are. We become Dance.
Of course, after dance, we become just ourselves with all our attendant problems, but we still have the memory of that moment of freedom to sustain us, and hopefully we’ll still have it even when we’re too old to dance at all.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.