Even before I started practicing yoga and learning more about the mind/body connection, I knew, instinctively, that grief was also physical. Sometimes in the dark of my basement I would dance through my grief: my grandparents’ deaths, the Columbine shootings, 9/11, my father’s illness and subsequent death, and once in awhile, even old hurts from times as long ago as high school. With my curtains drawn, I worked through pains I couldn’t express in writing.

The funny thing is that as I have faced so many types of mourning over the past few years, I have forgotten to dance. Maybe it’s because the furniture arrangement in the basement doesn’t always allow it—or because a certain son plays video games there and keeps the floor rather cluttered—or that part of me doesn’t remember that I can dance.

Oh, my mind dances often in savasana. But then I am lying still in the dark, watching the dance, not participating with my own body.

Trina & Debbie Logan, Wittenberg 1983

Trina & Debbie Logan, Wittenberg 1983

If there is something about me that casual acquaintances don’t know, it’s that I am a much different person when I dance. I still remember an impulsive trip to Happy Hour during the 80s. I would have dressed differently if I knew I would be going out—after all, I knew myself and knew that I would get warm dancing. But no, I was wearing my most conservative outfit: the proverbial gray wool suit combined with a high-necked burgundy shirt. John Malloy would have been proud! Some guy asked me to dance and I knew from the look of surprise on his face that he had not expected someone dressed like me to dance with so much energy.

I am the little girl grown up who begged for ballet lessons, but, small towns are hit or miss in opportunities. Instead, I learned tap, baton, acrobatics—and Hawaiian dance. Soon I was making up routines to songs like “None But the Lonely Bull” and other Herb Alpert favorites. When my mom’s students taught me to dance psychedelically at a sock hop at the age of seven, I wholeheartedly followed their moves. My friends and I played at “American Bandstand” more than we played House. Yet, as a shy teenager, for a long time I was the epitome of the Madonna song, “Into the Groove”:

Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free
At night I lock the doors, where no one else can see
I’m tired of dancing here all by myself
Tonight I want to dance with someone else

Many years have passed since I had to dance by myself, but boy do I need to dance regularly, not just with Sherman at the very occasional wedding or other dance we attend. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to take a Zumba® class the first month it was offered at my local recreation center. Now, this is my kind of exercise—and just what the doctor would have ordered if she knew anything about my dancing background.

Wedding 1988, Sherman & Trina Dancing

Wedding 1988, Sherman & Trina Dancing

Imagine my surprise when Christiana asked to come with me—and then wanted to come back. Lord knows that if anything can embarrass my children, it’s my dancing in Zumba® class! In fact, I was sure that would drive her away.

The fact it didn’t is just another sign how far she’s come in her healing process. That reminds me of the refrigerator poem I “wrote” for her some time during the darkest months last year.

God,
free her from haunted yesterdays.
Give hope & joy.
Courage brings peaceful days—
she will dance once more.

Now to take that poem to heart for myself . . . it’s time I danced once more—and I don’t even need to do it with myself.

Guy & Kristie Plugge, Wedding 1988, (C) Bill Willson Photography

Guy & Kristie Plugge, Wedding 1988, (C) Bill Willson Photography

(Can’t embed the link, but if you want to see the official Billy Idol YouTube video, click here.)