The Night We Danced Again
When I dreamed of my wedding day, the first thing on my mind every time was the playlist. It had to be epic, there could be no sub par songs that held no worthy beat, and I would be on the dance floor the entire night. When our DJ decided to veer off the list and play an incredibly slow song after our wedding party had just performed what in my mind was the most incredible flash mob to Taio Cruzs’ song, Dynamite I was mortified. My new husband, Kevin and I quickly, and hopefully kindly rushed to him and asked him to stick to the playlist. We wanted to dance. And dance we did, the rest of the night we twirled and rocked and in my mind we were the best dancers out there. Now I’m not so cocky to think that that was actually true, I know I dance much better in my head then on the floor but that night it didn’t matter. We were newlyweds, in love, the great adventure of marriage before us.
I love to dance. There is something about dancing that takes you into another sphere of joy and celebration and life. And it’s the sphere I couldn’t bring myself to enter into a year later, when we buried our first-born daughter and then 14 months after the unimaginable happened and we buried our second daughter. We would attend weddings in that season of love and loss and I hoped no one would pull me out onto the dance floor. I’d half-heartedly go with Kevin to slow dance or maybe attempt to enjoy twirling and being dipped. But that part of me that loved to let loose on the dance floor seemed to die with my daughters.
In those moments, I was acutely aware at how grief had changed me, was changing me. My grief was not only the loss of my girls but the loss of those parts of me that I felt made me “me”. Who was I now? Would the fun loving Lindsey ever return? As I stepped into the grieving journey and ever so begrudgingly accepted the fact that grief had become my companion for an undetermined length of time I was discovering new depths of my faith, new depths of myself and new depths of love and hope I had not known. I began to be resolved to the reality that perhaps the “fun loving” Lindsey who could go out on the dance floor all alone and not care who noticed or didn’t notice may or may not return. I began to realize I could not rush the hard work of grief and I could not force myself to be at a place I wasn’t. And it is in the relinquishing of what I wanted my reality to be to what my reality actually was that I began to see more vividly how hope was at work bringing healing to my soul.
At first it was ever so small moments, like at the checkout counter at the grocery store. For so long, I avoided any kind of small talk, afraid of what I would be asked that would send my emotions soaring over the edge. In time, I began to ask the questions of those unassuming men and women at the register that I had asked before “How are you? How is your day?” Knowing, I would be met with those questions in return and a slow release of the fear of how I may or may not respond. Those little moments became larger when I started to actually want to go out with a group of people, to a small party, the anxiety of large crowds and small talk lessening over time. But still there was no dancing, no desire to dance, no desire to do really anything spontaneous and fun like I used to. The little moments held hope for me that perhaps those things I used to love would return as well in time. My husband was ever patient with me though he was ready much sooner than I to step into the things we used to do.
Ten months after our 2nd daughter died we took a trip out west to San Diego to attend a friends wedding. I love the coast, I love the ocean and perhaps it was partly because being in that environment awakens something inside of me, but that night I wanted to be on the dance floor. Just for a few songs that I loved, I pulled Kevin out. I sensed this newness as we were out there and a small seed of hope continued to rise that I had not in fact lost all of myself to grief. It was fleeting, I lost interest after a few songs but still it was a seed.
Several months later Kevin planned a date for us at home. He moved the coffee table and began to play music we had danced to at our wedding. To my surprise, I wanted to dance. A few months earlier I may have been mad that he would have planned such a date but that night, I felt loved and I felt joy dancing with my husband. He dipped me and twirled me, we laughed and smiled at each other and out of the corner of my eyes I could see the photos of our daughters on the wall as Kevin swung me around. And tears filled my eyes. It was fitting that we’d dance together, in our home, surrounded by our girls, to the songs we had loved so much before it felt like life came tumbling down. I was beginning to realize it’s true, what the Bible says that “He’ll turn our mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11).
I didn’t know when that would happen or if that would happen but it did happen. There is of course still mourning, but today, nearly 4 years after losing my first daughter there is more dancing then mourning, quite literally. Sometimes a little dance wiggle comes out of me in the kitchen as I’m cooking, a spontaneous twirl and laughter by my husband, and a desire to cut loose on the dance floor. Every time I dance, I’m reminded of how I never thought I would dance again, and as I let grief do it’s work the joy began to rise. Slowly, quietly, in unexpected moments, never rushed, just seeping through the pain to the point where many days now more joy is seeping through then grief. It would of course be okay if there never is any dancing, but when hope begins to rise, you may find that you do in fact dance again.
Guest post by Lindsey Dennis