Clogging One Day At A Time

At noon I looked out at my audience and said, "My father wanted me to dig deeper into my writing, to touch the sadness he felt was always lying just beneath my humor. I told him I was like too shal-low," I said this last phrase like a valley girl and they all laughed.

Then I said, "I told him I just didn't have anything that deep to write about. So, too oblige me, he decided to die."

There is a soft, collective gasp among the crowd.

"We had a year to say goodbye, and during it all I wrote my guts out." Then I read them a passage from the blog. One about Cookie.

It was amazing. They actually liked it. I didn't have to say funny things...okay, well, a few, but they liked the real stuff. In fact, they seemed to like this as much as the funny stuff.

I was fine then. My voice didn't quaver. I didn't feel like I was going to cry or anything. I felt almost as if I could feel him coming from deep inside my soul when I said, "Empowerment comes not from money or status. It comes from within. Empowerment is the ability to celebrate that which you do well and to give thanks for that gift."

It was easy as pie.

Tonight I went back to dance practice with my clogging team. I've danced with them for about ten years only since Dad got sick, I missed almost four straight months. We dance in an old Rec center, on gray linoleum tile. The room is hot. It smells like smelly bodies. But it is, in a way, home. It was the safe haven I found when my marriage was coming apart.

And our instructor, Kenny, is the only person, other than my sister Flea, who could ever teach me a dance step and get my spastic feet to actually follow it.

When I arrived they were already dancing. I put on my shoes, walked out onto the floor and fell right back in step. It was fine...Until they put on "Calling Baton Rouge." Suddenly I was transported back to the activity room kitchen in Dad's assisted living facility...And I missed him so badly I could feel my bones ache.

One by one the cloggers came in to the room, saw me and said, "Hey, we missed you! How are you?" They hugged my neck...I felt as if I was once again in the receiving line at the church after the funeral. "I'm fine," I said. "Just fine."

A few of them, the ones I knew who'd lost people close to them, looked at me with understanding compassionate eyes. "It's just one day at a time," they said. "The funniest things'll make you remember, like a bolt of lightning, you'll remember and it just tears you up, doesn't it?"

I had to leave. I wasn't obvious about it. Only Marti knew why I left, but still, I ran like a scalded yard dog.

I know it gets better. This is all part of the process. Yada. Yada. Yada.

It's Thursday. Dad died two weeks and one day ago.


TamMom said...

Yesterday was national coming out day - I am not coming out of *that* closet (my husband and kids wouldn't take that very well) ... but, I am coming out to de-lurk and leave you a comment!

I think you're a marvelous writer, whether you're writing about stuff that makes you (and me) cry ... or writing for the laughs. You are human, and all of the qualities that make you a good writer are there because you write about the emotions of humanity.

I lost my parents when I was young, 11 (dad) and 12 (mom) - life does go on, but there's always sadness with the memories -- the memories can be hilarious, but the sadness is that we are left alone, with our without angels (who are with or without wings, of course), to live. No matter how good or bad those memories are, love is the bottom line - and if you were loved, then you can go on. Go on to give love back, to carry on the legacy of your family, to move forward with the words to put life in some semblance of order. You can laugh and you can cry, and you are alive to feel the love of life.

When you blog, you're not alone - which you've probably already figured out. I appreciate you and your blog - and hope you see the sunshine for the rain, as it's the rain that makes the flowers bloom for us to enjoy in the sunshine.

Nancy said...

Tammom, you are so sweet to delurk for me! I am touched. Thank you! Nancy

Kim said...

I was lost through the whole dancing thing, I don't dance. I'm pretty sure every dance club in existance has a by-law that clearly states "Kim is NOT allowed to dance here. Ever."

The rest of it though, I know. It is SO strange what will make you cry. Don't fight those episodes off, let them run their course, it's the only way you'll get all scabby and feel better.

Heather said...

Hi Nancy..I found your blog through Kim and I'm glad that I did. My dad died 8 years ago at the age of 49 and my heart aches for you as I read what you are going through. I know it might not help to hear it but it does get better..I promise. But I can also tell you that 8 years down the line, I still have those moments where I'll hear a song or see something that makes me think of him and the tears are right there again. But in the end, those are the memories that last.

Nancy said...

I'm glad you said that Heather. I was beginning to wonder if I'd "forget" him. Not forget his existence and meaning but forget the feeling of having him nearby. Knowing that missing him is that real for you gives me hope that it also means his love stays close to your heart. Thanks,