If someone had been able to tell me 27 years ago (and I had believed them) that I would experience Hell on Earth, walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, be a single mother of six kids, and ..... know the pain of being a widow at a young age ...... would I have still married Jim?
Honestly? Probably not. I mean, wouldn't hearing that scare the crap out of anyone, especially a 23 year old girl/woman?! (To be perfectly frank .... the part about the six kids would have had me moving out of the country!)
But .... if this person had also been able to tell me that during the next 27 years I would experience a love that defied reason, the feeling of two hearts actually becoming one, the unquestionable support and encouragement from the best man I knew, and the opportunity to watch him grow as a husband, father, businessman, community leader and a Christian ..... then maybe I would have continued down the aisle.
Most days I can say that the Dance was worth far more than the Pain can ever dish out.
Some days .... I'm not so sure.
Those are the days when I have to make the single parent gut-wrenching decisions, the days I feel that I am much less of a person now, the days that I feel I cannot stand his absence one more second, the days that there are 4 things that need to be fixed in the house, two of the cars have red lights staring at me and one of the kids is ready to defy my wavering sense of authority. Those are the days that my whole body is wracked with the pain of grief and even breathing is almost too difficult to accomplish.
On those days the Pain is more like a living thing that threatens to take over my already-weakening existence.
But then there are other days ..... increasingly more days now ..... when I can stand strong against the Pain and know without a doubt that I would .... AND could, live through it all again ..... just to have one more chance to Dance.
The Dance gave me the love that fuels my heart, no matter how broken it is.
The Dance gave me 27 years of good times and bad times, but more importantly .... growing together times.
The Dance gave me six pieces of Jim .... each reminding me of him in so many different ways (both good and irritating!).
The Dance gave me strength .... to be my own woman because I was loved for who I was.
The Dance gave me more than I think I could ever list .... it gave me Us .... and everything and everyone that entailed.
The Pain took Us away .... on the outside, but it can never remove Us from my heart.
The Pain knocked me to the ground ..... and yet ultimately gave me the desire to be strong enough to defiantly get back up again.
The Pain made me question myself ..... who I am and what I can accomplish, but it also caused me to remember the love that grew me into the woman Jim knew.
The Pain ripped away my support and my foundation. Or rather .... it and I thought it did. The Pain didn't know that I still had God .... and the love of family and friends.
Yes, the Pain has given .... and taken away ..... so very much in my life. And I know that it's not done.
But the Dance .....
Oh the Dance.
The Dance continues to warm my heart again and make me smile.
The Dance gave me enough love and memories to push past anything the Pain has to thrust into my life.
The Dance made me into the woman that Jim loved ..... and into the woman I am today.
A different woman indeed.
But a stronger woman.
A woman who knows that life is short and that it sometimes sucks.
But a woman who also knows that life is precious. And that loved ones are to be held tightly .... for a while.
A woman who knows that she can .... and will survive.
And a woman who knows that life can be enjoyed ..... all over again.
I am a woman who Danced.
And would do it all over again .... in spite of the outcome.
And maybe, just maybe ..... I am a woman who will Dance again.