Dancing for Brie

By , Watertown, CT
 Sometimes I wish I could go back. Back to when Brie was alive and dancing full of laughter, always smiling. But then I remember what everyone always says about this kind of loss. The kind of loss that leaves one school, one community, and two families completely lost, broken, and devastated. They say that everything happens for a reason and God has a purpose for everything. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that, and each time i experience a different emotion. Anger. What kind of god would take someone as beautiful, caring, and motivated as Brie away from the world? Certainly not a God I could ever understand. Confusion. How could this happen? Comfort. She's in a better place now.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, before I talk about Brie's death I have to talk about her life.

I saw Brie's life from a distance. We weren't best friends. We weren't related like sisters or cousins. Although I like to think we were part of the same family. A family by heart not by blood. A dance family. We both danced for the same studio. A very close-knit studio that had never lost a member, especially not someone as special and integral as Brie.

Walking into the studio, you knew everyone there by name, you had inside jokes with the dance teachers.  The girls in your class, as well as the teachers and assistants greeted you with a hug. It was always full of light. It had a certain glow, which radiated from Brie's smile.

Brie was older than I was by almost three years. She and I had never been in the same dance class. To the girls in my class she was one of the older, more experienced dancers we looked up to and so longed to be. But there was something different about Brie than the other girls her age. As typical teenage girls, sometimes the older girls were cranky and just had bad days. But not Brie her smile never seemed to fade. She could cheer you up in a second. Seeing a girl like Brie made you look up to her immediately. She was everyone's role model yet none of us knew it. Thinking of all those times I remember the girl I strived to be.

But one day, over winter break Brie's light went out on a snowmobiling trip when she had a tragic accident. 

I had no idea what I was about to go through when I got on the school bus that day. The first Monday back to school after February vacation, the day after Brie's accident, I still hadn't heard. Kids were arguing over whether the girl in the accident died on the scene or not. Confused and a bit nervous, I asked the name of the girl. "It was Brie." my friend told me, she knew I'd be upset. Not wanting the reality to crash over me I searched my mind for some other Brie someone else than the girl I had wanted to be. But there was no one else. It had been her, but I refused to accept it for a while. During homeroom I expected an announcement to be made or a letter sent home confirming my fears that it wasn't just a rumor. But there was nothing. At the time this helped me deceive myself, but deep down I was angry. This girl had been a model student and person and my school didn't have the decency to acknowledge she was gone or that she even had lived. I wanted to scream. 

When I got home, no one was there my mother wasn't home from work yet. But sitting on the kitchen table was the newspaper and on the front page was the article explaining what happened. I read it over and over until the words meant nothing anymore. My mother came home and  seeing I already knew hugged me and said the words everyone says.

"Everything happens for a reason. God has a purpose for all he does." 

I broke down crying. And when I was done I asked if she could take me to the wake in two days. 

At the wake my dance studio was allowed in as a group before everyone except for the family. It felt strange, walking past everyone else in line, like a VIP at a concert, a morbid concert at that. Everyone seemed normal until we walked into the room where the wake was held. Girls started crying and shaking and holding onto each other. Suddenly, I felt like an outsider standing among the girls who had been Brie's friends before I was born, and I was just an admirer, a fan of hers. One girl saw that I was alone and pulled me along beside her. We cried together and shared a box of tissues, we went to offer our condolences together to Brie's family, it was the absolute worst place to bond with a person I could ever imagine.

Later, at dance class the next week, Brie's light seemed gone the glow of her smile forever vanished it seemed. If you mentioned her girls would ask not to talk about it. As if speaking of Brie would suck more light from the already dark studio. 

It was just the opposite, silence was a vacuum sucking out what was left of the radiance of the forever dimmed rooms. When our dance teacher noticed this she made memorial T- shirts, wristbands, and pins. We started calling it "buying the full collection of Brie memorabilia" it was our idea of humor, it may have been morbid, but it was a start. As, laughter and smiles came back to the studio so did the light.

It's now been almost two years since Brie's death. My friends and I are now the older girls and we strive to be as great an influence on the young dancers as Brie was on us. We are always dancing for her and we strive to bring more light into the world to make up for what has been taken away.

Our Brie T-shirts read "Because of her smile the world is more beautiful." I know this is true because of the beauty Brie's life and her smile brought to us and inspired us to continue. If Brie hadn't gone we never would have realized how beautiful she made the world





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