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Maria's Journey and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

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“Maria hurry up, you’re going to be late for ballet.” I rushed down the stairs and hurried into mom's minivan.

 

There I was greeted by Tommy, my older brother who had to go to baseball and my sister of seven months who was off to mommy and me with my mom. We were your stereotypical suburban family . As you can see I am the middle child, that is not the only unique thing about me I also have autism. which mean I sometimes have problems being social and communicating how I feel. Life is really rough on some days. I feel really upset at times, most of the time I just feel really alone. My brother is getting ready to go off to college so he is really busy. Mom is busy with him getting the money all figured out and when she isn't talking about grown up stuff with my brother she is taking care of the baby. I used to be really close to my dad but now that he is gone I feel as if I don't have anyone on some days. I am starting dance class today because my mom thinks it will give me something to do and make me feel like part of something. I am really excited because I have always wanted to play a sport or be on a team, like my big brother.


I walked into the dance studio with my black leotard and my pink ballet slippers. There were mirrors everywhere. I had a sort of unsettling feeling in my stomach my dad used to call this nerves. I really like to dance but I don't want this to be like school I don't have many friends at school but I wouldn't call myself a loner. Quality not quantity that is what dad said. “Hello my dear are you Maria, the newest member to my class?” Yes thats me! Reporting for duty Mrs. Smith! Mrs. Smith is our neighbor she has always been really nice, in the summer she lets me help water her garden and she was there for the whole family when dad passed. She talked to my mom and told her that it might be good if I got out of the house other than just school and the grocery store so she suggested her dance class when mom told me I was thrilled from the time I could walk I was always doing a little gig. The other girls started to file in the room. I didn't recognize any of them, but they all looked to be about the same age as me, 13. We got straight to it, we started learning the positions then we went to the barre and practiced some stretches to warm up. I leaped in the  car and my mom pointed out the huge smile running from ear to ear. The entire car ride home I was going through every detail of the class. My brother was nice enough to listen and he even added in a little genuine interest smile because he knew how happy I was. During the school year we will meet on saturdays! I can't wait for next week.


When we got home from church on Sunday afternoon me and Tommy got straight to our chores while mom laid Eve down for a nap. Just then while I was picking up all of my stuffed animals I heard screaming and yelling from inside the kitchen. I shuffled down the stairs and stopped halfway down I could hear mom, she was on the phone. I couldn't tell if she was angry or upset because the screams of anger were now muffled by sobs. Just then Tommy bolted down the stairs nearly knocking me over. He shouted back up the stairs as he was already halfway in the kitchen he told me to go to my room and watch some TV. I didn't know what was going on so I happily obliged. Later that night when I got called down to dinner my mom told us that she had gotten some test results back and she had stage three cancer. I was really worried. That night my mom was giving Eve a bath so  Tommy tucked me in. He told me that we shouldn't ask for things unless we absolutely need it. That was when it hit me. Mom could die, then we would be left all alone. What was going to happen to our family? I did not sleep with ease that night. The only little sparkle I had was dance class in six days.


It was Friday and I barely stumbled off the bus. Not even the fact that I had dance class tomorrow could make the situation better. I don't really know why I like dance class so much I know less than all of the other girls because I started the class late and I don't really have any friends, but something about it at least used to make me happy now nothing can excite me. I woke up the next day and had Tommy braid my hair while mom was getting ready. She has been really busy lately with work and doctors appointments. Tommy sensed my lack of enthusiasm and asked what was up. I told him I was just really sad. He said there is nothing to be sad about because mom was going to get the help she needed and be strong again but I think he was just saying that to make me feel better.  When I got to class Mrs. Smith also noticed that something was wrong. She pulled me aside and I told her just like I told Tommy and guess what she said the same thing he said. I started to think about other things, like how the sun glimmered across all the mirrors in the dance studio. I felt light and free. Mrs. Smith pulled me out of my trance and announced that I would be picking the song for our recital that was coming up. Right then and there I decided that I wasn't going to be pessimistic about this I wasn't going to let my sadness ruin this for me. After class that day while I was waiting for my mom some of the girls Julie and Erica asked if I wanted to come to there house to spend the night. I was thrilled I said I would ask my mom when she got here then we sat and talked about ballet shoes.


It was really fun that night and Julie's house we had pizza and practiced our dance routine and the girls even helped me pick out a song for the recital. When I went home that Sunday afternoon my mom told us that at the next doctor visit they would have to shave her head. This was really upsetting. That was pretty much how the next six months went. Depressed on the weekdays and excited on the weekends. I was like two different people. Mom wasn't there for the recital when we took home first place but I can't blame her. Tommy says the more she goes to the doctor the better she will get.


One day after dance I went to the park with Erica. When her mom dropped me off Tommy was in the front yard “hurry” he said “come quick and grab some streamers.” Tommy had talked to the doctors and gotten moms results back they were cancer free so we were decorating the whole house to surprise her when she came home. I almost didn't believe him. But when mom came home the look on her face told me he wasn't. We laughed and cried and danced all night. I will never forget how Mrs. Smith's dance class helped me through the thick and thin.  




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