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The Hardest Dance
I was born on February 21, 1991 and ever since I have been on a stage. My mom danced her entire life and passed her wonderful trait on to me. Her dream growing up was to be in the Miami Ballet, but she met my dad and had me so the dream became impossible. They settled into a average size house in Pensacola, Florida near the beach. Since the first time I heard this story, I decided I was going to join the Miami Ballet, and live out me and my mother's dream. This dream came to a crashing halt when I was 16 years old on December 24, 2008.
It was Christmas Eve and my dad, my mom, and I had our usually Christmas Eve plans. Every year we went to our church for the 5 o' clock service and then went to our family friends house to eat dinner and exchange gifts. Unfortunately my mom had a horrible cold and was not feeling well so we decided to take two cars in case she needed to leave early and go get some sleep for Christmas Day. She came with us to our little church where the Nativity scene was all set up. My entire family's favorite service was the Christmas Eve one. After when we walked in the house it already smelt like ham and warm rolls. While we were sitting around drinking coffee and eating cherry pie, my mom decided it was time for her to go. I could see on her face she was tired and not feeling well. She left apologetically and unwillingly, but everyone understood she just needed some sleep to feel better. Two hours later, my dad and I were about to walk out the door when the phone rang. I will never forget how my dad's face went from being so blissful to totally distorted within seconds. He started to fall to the ground when one of the men caught him. Everyone rushed around and tried to figure out what had just happened. The next twelve hours, actually next two weeks, were a complete blur.
My mom had left the party and was about five minutes from our house when a drunk driver hit her on the drivers side. She was sitting at a red light and he came out of no where. The ambulance arrived and pronounced her dead on the way to the hospital. The other driver was in critical condition for a couple weeks, but survived. Our lives had changed forever. We were no longer the three amigos, but just two sad people floating through life side by side.
About eight months later, life was still in the process of getting back to normal. We were both still struggling, but finding our way out of the darkest of dark days. I had not stepped on a stage since the accident and was set on never doing it again. Everyone had tried to convince me otherwise, but I could not seem to do it. How could I get on the stage and not see my mom's face shining in the audience? Or feel so much joy for something when she was not there with me to enjoy it too? Dancing was a language only certain people understood, and my mom and I were two of those special people. My dad of course loved watching first my mom, and then me on stage, but he never totally understood what happened to us when our feet started to move. I had lost the passion and desire, it was gone.
It was a Saturday afternoon in August when I got a phone call from my best friend Caroline. She asked if I wanted to go get lunch and go to the beach one last time before senior year started. I told her I would meet her in one hour at our favorite restaurant right on the beach. I asked my dad for a few dollars and he told me to go get it out of his wallet which was on his bed side table. I did not see it so I opened the drawer. As I was digging I felt something that seemed oddly familiar. It was a journal. There it was, my mom's pink, floral journal that she use to write in all the time. She said it was the easiest way for her to talk to God. I had not seen it since she was alive, and had almost completely forgotten about it. I sat there on the bed holding it for which seemed to be hours before I decided to open it. I was flipping through it when I landed on one of the last pages she had written in before the accident. It was dated November 14, 2008. I knew that day right away.
In November my mom took me to Miami to dance for someone she knew that had a connection to the Miami Ballet. This was the date of the day we had come home. That trip was amazing. Of course the trip was mainly focusing on ballet, but my mom and I got some quality time in together. I did not know if I should start reading, but something told me I had to. It read:
November 14, 2008
Right now I am headed back to Pensacola with Elizabeth. We went to Miami so
she could show them what she had! She did absolutely wonderful. I can tell she
is the happiest on stage, and I am the happiest when she is on stage too. It
brings me back to my days in ballet. There is nothing better than seeing her do
what I loved. I cannot wait to see her in the Miami Ballet! I know it is a long
shot, but I also know she can do it! She has the dedication and passion to get
there. Please help her anytime she needs it and please let us have a safe trip
back. Talk to you soon!
I finished the page with a tear in my eye. I looked up at the clock and realized that I needed to get going to meet Caroline. I sat there a minute longer thinking, but I did not know what to do about this, so I ignored it for the time being. I took the journal though and hid it in my room so I could maybe look through it again later.
The next week school started and life became hectic again. I did not think about the journal a lot, except when I was going to sleep. About two weeks later I brought the journal out of its hiding place. I read it more times than I can count. It seemed to really strike me, and I think I knew why. This whole time I had not wanted to dance because it was something my mom and I shared, and she was not there to share it with me anymore. For some reason this made me want to get back on the stage.
The next day I walked in my dad's room with the journal in my hand. He looked at me and then looked down to my hands. He started crying almost immediately. We sat there and cried for a few minutes before I started talking. I told him I had read through some of her entires, but one hit me the hardest. He knew what I was talking about. My dad especially knew how much my mom had enjoyed watching me dance, and I knew it hurt him so much when I stopped. I flipped open to the page and ran my fingers across it, feeling the spots where tears had hit it. I turned to see my dad's face, and he said to me if I wanted to try and dance again, he was totally on board. He told me how even though mom was gone, she is still here and watching us, and he knew that me getting back on stage would bring a smile to my mom in Heaven. We talked about how she wants us to enjoy our lives even though she is missing. Watching us be miserable and not doing what we love would bring tears to her eyes. As I sat there listening, with water spilling down my face, I started to accept all of this. It had taken me awhile, but after many months of fighting it, I knew I had to live out my life, not only for me, but for my mom.
A couple days later I hoped in my car after school and drove to my old studio. I happened to know that one of the studios was empty right now from all my years there. The first step was to put on the dancing clothes, including the shoes. That was harder than I thought it was going to be. I then walked in. I ran my fingers across the wooden bar, and the smell of the place was exactly the same. I stood there staring at myself in the mirror that took up the entire front wall. At this point I felt like it had been ages since I had been here. I could not get my feet to move. They felt glued to the floor, even with the music flowing through the room. I could not do it. I grabbed my things and went immediately to my dad's office, but he did not seem that surprised to see me. He walked up to me and gave me a huge hug. I told him that as much as I wanted to, I could not do it. He told me that next week we were going to go together. The thought of him being there was comforting, but I was still nervous about going back.
The day came and after school I went to pick up my dad. Getting back in the clothes was a little easier this time. When I walked back into the room, my dad was leaning against the wall, smiling. I could tell he was thinking about the old times. I walked over to the stereo and pressed play. I then walked to the middle of the stage and as I stood there, I could hear my dad whispering you can do it. The eight counts in my head started to play, as they had so many times. There I went. The piece I had done in Miami came rushing back to me. Of course I had a few errors, but it did not matter. I did not want the song to end. I could not help but smile as I spun around and saw myself in the mirror. The happiness of dancing was there again, and from that point on I knew I would never give this up again. I knew that was what I was born to do, and nothing would stand in my way from now on. The song came to an end, and I was standing in the final pose. I stood there trying to catch my breath, when my glance shifted over to my dad. His face had not looked so happy in a very long time, too long of a time. I smiled back as tears of joy filled both of our eyes. I looked towards the mirror again and in that moment I knew, after eight months of being lost, I was back.