Thursday, July 22, 2010
It's Time To Dance
I was rehearsing my choreography backstage at what used to be the Seattle Opera House. I could smell the rosin mixed with the faint smell of sweat. I was wearing practice clothes and pointe shoes. I was alone with the exception of the dimmed lights and the memorized music in my head. I began marking my steps slowly, then as my confidence grew I began dancing full-out. Oh, how I love this! I thought. Everything felt right. My form, my timing--all was perfect.
As I danced, I felt an exhilarating thrill. Every nuance of my being was swept up into the moment. I felt whole. Complete. Free.
But when I began a lengthy series of fouettes, things changed dramatically. After the 7th one, I suddenly fell. Hard. Crashing and tumbling to the floor. I laid there in a crumpled heap, dazed and disoriented. What just happened? I never fall like this! And that's when the pain in my ankle set in. Deep, throbbing and utterly excruciating. I tried to stand up then screamed. It was broken. I could see the odd angle of the bones and felt sick. No! This cannot be happening! I can't handle this! Not now! Then I could feel pain flow through my chest. "I've broken a rib, too!" I gasped. The rib was on my left side, across my heart.
Being the stubborn person I am, I refused to let my injuries hold me back. I clutched my chest and tried to stand back up, then I immediately fell back down. I did this repeatedly, confident that my strength would kick in at any moment. But each attempt was a failure.
Angry, hot, and nearly wild with pain, I started to cry. "I can't deal with this. I just can't!" Suddenly a shimmering light appeared from overhead, cascading down directly in front of me. Then to my amazement, Someone whom I haven't seen in years was suddenly standing before me. He looked healthier and happier than he ever did in life. As he extended his hand toward me, he smiled at me in such a way that I knew came only from spending time at the feet of God Himself.
As he carefully brought me to my feet, I stared at him in shock. That's when all my memories of us came flooding back and I suddenly felt extremely angry. "What are you doing here?!" I hissed. He didn't reply, just kept smiling. "You're not welcome here! Leave! I don't want your help!" I angrily began punching his chest but he didn't flinch. Then, still silent and smiling, he looked down at my ankle.
Now it was my turn to be silent! My ankle, though cracked straight across, didn't hurt anymore. I then noted the flow of unrestricted air in my lungs. My rib was no longer broken. God had healed me! The marks were still there, but the pain was gone.
I stared up at his face, refusing to mirror his smile. I was still so angry at him. "This can't be real," I said, turning my face from his. I still couldn't bear to look at him. He patiently touched my jaw with his fingertip, directing my face back toward him. "It's time to dance," he whispered.
At the sound of his voice, the storm within me rolled back and I felt a massive weight suddenly lift off my shoulders. I looked up into his eyes and said something I hadn't been able to utter in nearly 15 years: "I forgive you." And I truly meant it.
Then we both smiled and I carefully released his hand.
Walking slowly back to the center of the stage I started my dance again, beginning a few phrases before the fouettes. He hung back for a few moments and watched. Still smiling serenely. As he slowly disappeared, the light remained. Not as bright, but still there. I didn't stop to question it or wonder where he went. I just kept on dancing, feeling my joy return and a smile spread across my face. The light enveloped me and buoyed me along. I felt amazing!
And then it happened again. I got to the 7th fouette and BAM! down I went, snapping more bones in half. This time it was my leg and the same rib. This cannot be happening to me! I tried to stand up but of course, it was useless. The light started shining brightly just as before, this time ushering my Aunt Francis to my aid. She smiled and helped me up, just as the first person had. My leg had a visible scar from the break, which I found odd. But it didn't hurt at all. As I stood, I could smell my aunt's skin and feel the warmth of her smile radiate through me. "You're so beautiful, Auntie" I said. She hugged me for a moment then said, "It's time to dance."
Over and over again, the events would repeat themselves. I'd fall to the floor. I'd hear the distinctive CRACK! of breaking bones and feel the excruciating pain shoot through me. Each break seemed to hurt more than the previous ones. I'd attempt to get up and keep going, even though I knew I couldn't. Then without fail, another Someone I'd lost would be escorted to my feet, carried by the beautiful golden light. My step brother, Sean. My grandfather. Sierra's paternal grandfather,Vern. My Uncle Bret. Dean's grandmother, Lindy.
Nine bones and nine visitors, each one helping me to my feet. All smiling. All healthy, happy and at peace. Each one telling me, "It's time to dance."
And so it was...