15 June, 2009
Where Love Lives
The chair back pressed against my back as the lights lowered and the performance music started. My daughter, head high and bun low, took her place before the mat. She opened the performance with the youngest dancers as she assists in the school’s youngest class. As I watched, tears gathered in my eyes. Seven years ago that was my daughter - the one with the bright golden curls. She was the one without the tummy who would throw her stuffed animal up in the air whenever the chance. Now she stood in front demonstrating - seven years, a few feet taller, a lot wiser, and just as beautiful. Other dancers moved into center stage. Dancers that I have watched through the years. dancers who's parents have now become my friends and support network. These dancers, this studio, so much of my life experienced in these rooms. My daughter entered again. No longer is she demonstrating barre work, now she is with her class in the center of the floor. She jumps with grace and poise. She smiles, completely focused on the movements over the audience. To think that a few years ago she was focused on me. Waving to mamma in the audience as discreetly as possible. Looking anxious when she couldn't find me and yet, in her heart she always knew I was there . I was there. I was at each performance and every event… I bite my lower lip to keep the tears from falling. My heart hurts with love as I watch her living her passion and enjoying her dance. Sunday I will miss the one and only performance I will ever miss. Sadness wells. I know that it is the right decision; it is a gift for her and her dad, one that I will not consider changing. She dances her way across the stage and through my heart and memories. She is the child with the underwear peaking from beneath her uniform, or the one that will trip - you just know it. She is the one with the smile and the giggle just waiting for an excuse to bubble forward. She is the dancer with the curls escaping from her bun. That dancer that jumps as if she can reach the stars without much effort. I smile at her and lightly wave as the seat she has selected for me is as in front of her as one can get. Tomorrow, while I sit with friends talking and trying not to think of what I am missing, her dad will sit in this seat watching our daughter perform for the first time. He too will fight back tears - tears of pride and joy in watching this gorgeous spirit and all that she has accomplished. While memories of her past performances and her growth flit and skip across the stage of my mind, he will realize how much of a life and of a love that he has missed; how much of a life and a love that is lost to the past. We both will sit in this same chair, on different days, and consider this child, this love of ours, and the role of her in each of our lives in the future. I breathe deeply and give thanks for this amazing day and the child before me - and her dad for his role in her creation. I silently thank those who sit with me and stand beside me in this room and in our lives. Though her dad has no idea of the community he will enter on Sunday, I am aware of all that they give to me, to our daughter, and to him. While he feels nervous and alone, he will have no idea as to the love and support that surrounds him in this room, these walls, and from these people... from our daughter and me to her instructors, to the friends and family that make up this tiny piece of the ballet world.