Fresh Start

In 2015, I am sitting watching Dancing With The Stars.

I am simply amazed and in awe at the dancers, but I feel wistful.

Fresh Start - Mercia Tapping ready for her first dancing competition

Alas, that could never be me, I never learned to dance, and had always sat on the sidelines at social events. Now I am old and too sick. I get up and am clutching onto furniture to steady myself just to move across the living room floor. I am so very tired, simply exhausted. The side effects of the medicine which is saving my life from breast cancer are making me feel like I am 90 years old, every muscle and bone in my body is in screaming pain. What kind of life is this?

You should understand that In 2009 I was the woman who had everything; health, wealth and happiness. I had been riding high as a successful businesswoman, and extraordinarily happy in my marriage. And now I am left with nothing. My husband has died of brain cancer, my CFO defrauded me of millions and most of my retirement savings went to prop up my company. Now I have advanced breast cancer, unable to run the company, so it was recently sold in a fire sale to avoid bankruptcy.

How do you start your life over at 69 years old? And what is even the purpose for living? Being in heaven with my husband looks a whole lot more appealing. I am now sitting on my bed, I lift up my eyes to heaven and through my tears, imploring my husband for an answer.

“Why did you have to die? We were so happy”. The answer came back as it always did, so elusive and puzzling, telling me that I had a job to do on earth. But what?

It may sound a bit weird that I talk to my husband, but shortly after his death, he showed me in ways I could not argue with, that he was very much alive, but just not on this earth anymore.

Months passed, I was exercising by walking to music in my house. One day, I put on a slow rhumba and was gently swaying to and fro in my bedroom. I lifted up my arms as if to simulate dancing with my husband. Suddenly, I feel his presence and tears started to stream down my face as I hear his voice saying

“Honey, You should go and learn to dance.”

Who me? I still have neuropathy in my feet, a leftover from chemo, I am in constant pain and no balance to speak of. I would describe my will to live as a faint flicker and certainly not a burning flame. But nevertheless, I AM making slow progress. Dance? Oh if only…..I did not forget that message from heaven.

So just before Christmas in 2016, I contacted a dance studio to arrange lessons. I was understandably very nervous. I had a whole lifetime of thinking that I had no dancing potential. Sometime during my first lesson, my instructor asked if I was sure that I had never danced before because I was a natural. It felt thrilling to dance to the music! I may not have looked like a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” but I felt like one inside! Afterward, as I walked towards my car with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I heard my husband’s voice saying ” Merry Christmas, Honey. This is my gift to you”.

I wish I could tell you that the road to becoming a dancer was some overnight miracle. Not so, but Dance became the metaphor for rebuilding my life, one small step at a time. But there have been many miracles along the way. Dancing cured the neuropathy in my feet. Since being a fat dancer was decidedly unappealing, I lost 90 lbs and I can now smile at myself in the mirror. Dancing requires a very strong core, so I increased my Pilates practice and am now finishing my training as a Pilates teacher. And, I am entering my first dance competition in a couple of months!

I am a dancer, filled with the joy of life again, walking proud and tall.

Posted in Cancer, Courage, God, Grief, Inspiration

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