I met my friend for the first time several years ago in the Waltz line at our local dance hall.
We were newly single women discovering the healing art of ballroom dancing.
Our similar life experiences gave us instant connection. The dance floor was a special place.We discovered the Princess parts of ourselves otherwise hidden. Click To Tweet We laughed and compared stories. We complimented each other and twirled to test the flow of our dresses.
We secretly longed for our prince charmings.
Ballroom dancing allowed us physical connection with the opposite sex that was acceptable in no other type of environment. It was safe. There were rules of etiquette. It was proper only in that context. Our male partners were our friends and acquaintances.
We hung out at each other’s dance parties and special dance events that became too many to count. The ballroom community became a place of belonging.
We both eventually danced right into the arms of our husbands.
Joe and I had a private wedding on the beach of Lake Michigan; just right for us. Theirs was a grand event!
It was a fairy-tale wedding.
Marcia and Donald wedded at St. Peter and Paul’s Basilica in Chattanooga, surrounded by family, friends, and our dance community. I was a little jealous at first, yet that didn’t stop me from being overjoyed with them.
Joe and I were among the prelude of couples who waltzed down the aisle to welcome the bride. Marcia’s elegance dazzled guests with her military-uniformed son accompanying her. The violinist played an instrumental version of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.
The “something borrowed” on her wedding day was my cream-colored lace shawl. It was perfect for her November wedding day walk from the church to the dance reception.
The frequency of mine and Joe’s dancing gradually declined to once a month. Her’s and Donald’s dancing never slowed down. I’d never seen Marcia tired.
Too brief and unexpected.
She was so healthy and her symptoms so undetected before her diagnosis. It had been less than two months and a few text messages back and forth between us. I assured her of my prayers. I was determined to be there to pray and cheer her on in her battle against cancer. I left her a phone message the day she planned further treatment in Nashville. I was hoping to hear her voice; and her to be encouraged by mine.
God had other plans. Joe and I stayed by her side, loving, watching, and praying along with her family.
We must have been soul sisters all this time.
In those five hours of saying good-bye, her sons became my sons. Her sister and brother became my siblings. We listened. We watched. We waited.
Joe and Marcia shared camaraderie serving on the board of our local USA dance chapter. His job was to choose the music playlist with just the right tempo and variety for our monthly dances.
Joe brought a playlist of easy listening music to ease the tension. After all, Donald needed soft music to aide his grief. Gentle waltzes for Marcia seemed appropriate.
After he played several, Donald said, “Are slow Waltzes all you have? Marcia’s favorites were dancing the faster Foxtrots and Swings. Do you have Elton John’s Crocodile Rock or Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me?”
As Donald laid next to her with her head on his chest, the hospital bed became their dance floor. Marcia’s breathing seemed calmer and more rhythmic. The hours ticked by with this energetic showcase of Foxtrots, Sambas, and Swings. . . and a few faster Waltzes.
We watched her dance from the arms of her husband into the arms of Jesus.
Through the tears we could imagine her angelic princess figure with her flowing white gown twirling through the streets of gold.
This sacred time for Joe and me is beyond description. We cling to each other a little tighter. We see each other through the lens of gratitude and uncertainty. We cry together and pray more than before.
Marcia and Donald showed us how to love deeper and be gentle with the delicate soul of our relationship. We may even dance more often.
I’ll always be grateful for Marcia O’Conner.
I miss you, my friend. And I miss you and Donald as a couple. Thank you for showing Joe and me how to dance in the deeper places of our lives.