Someone made the comment to me that it seems like I have a black cloud over me. I told them, “I’ve been learning to dance the past eight months.” Let me share with you how this dance developed.
November 1, 2016 was my first dance lesson. I was sitting in a prayer meeting at church when there was a knock on the door, which is unusual during a session. I got up, opened the door and saw my two daughters standing there. My oldest daughter took my hand and said, “Mom I need you to come out here, we need to talk with you.” She and my youngest daughter proceeded to tell me that my sister had been killed in a car accident and, honestly, everything else she said after that was inaudible to me, at least to my brain. We flew to Texas the next day meeting my brother and his family at my parents house. We would soon learn that Dad was in the hospital in the end stage of esophageal cancer and Mom’s Alzheimer’s was so much farther along than any phone calls had ever revealed. When you walk into a room and your mom thinks you are her sister, well, there are no words for how a child feels when a mom does not recognize them other than devastated. By the time we left Texas the next week, my dance partner was holding me up. I never knew what a strong dance partner Jesus was.
The dance lessons continued. My father passed away six weeks after my sister. Mom was holding his hand when he was ushered into heaven. Even with her Alzheimer’s she knew exactly what was going on. She would gently touch his face telling him it was okay, he could go and she would come find him later. Fifty-nine years together and in a moment, he was gone. We flew home to California; it was the holiday season. Decorating and being festive was the last thing I wanted to do. I bought a ten inch tree at the grocery store and hung a beautiful ornament on it a friend had brought me. That was the extent of my decorating. I told Jesus I didn’t feel like decorating but I felt guilty that I didn’t. He reminded me that this was my journey and if I didn’t feel like decorating, then I didn’t need to. Our oldest daughter hosted Christmas at her house; I was thankful because all I had to do was show up and “just be”. My grand babies and my kids made me smile and for just a few moments I was lost in joy. It was at this time I learned choosing joy in the journey was what I needed to do everyday.
In January we would all fly back to Arizona for my father’s Full Honors Military Memorial. I was getting so overwhelmed because it was wave after wave of grief. Jesus extended his hand to me and said, “Let’s Dance,” so we did. This was a difficult dance to learn but what an amazing and loving teacher our Lord is. Holding me close to his heart so that when I felt mine would break I could feel His.
During the last eight months I have become quite a strong dancer. Throughout my lessons, I have learned that God is the redeemer of all things, the faithful one who gives courage when we have lost it, strength when we feel so tired, and a joy that even death can not take away from us. It is teaching me to love passionately, offer forgiveness, release anger, speak sweetly, be kind, desire a humble attitude, cultivate a servant’s heart and never leave the good stuff unsaid. And the gifts that God has given during this time – the gift of a grand-daughter being born, our youngest graduating from Cosmetology School and passing her boards, the smiles my grandsons bring me, the love my husband gives me, the laughter of my mama who now lives with me, the restoration of relationships, the joy of my children. Is everything perfect? Absolutely not, but again I am choosing joy in the journey.
I am not dancing every day anymore, but if and when a new storm comes, or if I feel the need to, I will take out my dancing shoes and wait for my partner to teach me some new steps.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy” Psalm 30:11
Choosing Joy in the Journey,