My entire adult life, I sat miserably on the sidelines at all social occasions which involved dancing, thinking that I could not dance. Like millions of others, I have watched “Dancing With The Stars” and have been amazed and inspired that the contestants could become accomplished ballroom dancers so quickly. How I envied them. As for me? I was now too old and without talent. Alas, that could never be me.
Shortly after my late husband, Herman, got terminal brain cancer, we were at a Bar Mitzvah. I was painfully aware that this might be the last time that I might even attempt to dance with him. So I shuffled awkwardly around the dance floor, weeping quietly into his chest, and hoped nobody noticed. I was a basket case.
In the following months, I was drawing up a bucket list of experiences I wanted my husband to have one last time before he died. I sadly realized yet again that because of my lack of skill, we had never learned to dance together. I enrolled us in some introductory lessons at Fred Astaire. The whole project was pretty much a disaster. My husband already had endured one seizure and his balance was terrible. With the instructor propping him up under his elbow counting out aloud “left foot, right foot” we lurched around the dance floor. Herman wore hiking boots in an effort to keep his balance. After 2 lessons, he had a second seizure and his balance was shot to pieces. Dancing was out of the question. We were on that slow march to his death in 2011.
Three years after his death, I too got cancer. During 2016 I was still making a slow recovery from breast cancer. I could still hardly walk across the room, but I bought a Fitbit, turned on the music and paced the length of my house. I boogied a bit to the music, and at least no one else was watching. I enjoyed moving to the music even though chemotherapy had left me with neuropathy in my feet, and they felt like two blocks of wood. One night, as I was moving to my music, I remembered that unfulfilled and sweet dream of being to dance with my husband, and I lifted up my arms as if to simulate dancing with a ghost. I immediately felt his presence and tears rolled down my face, as I heard his voice whispering from heaven, advising me that I should go and learn to dance.
In Dec 2016, I contacted Fred Astaire who told me that my previous unused lessons had not expired. I was thrilled, but understandably very nervous before I had my first lesson. 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 complete natural. It was thrilling to move to the music! I was amazed! Afterward, I walked towards my car with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and I heard my husband’s voice saying “Merry Christmas, Honey. This is my gift to you”.
The rest you could say is history. I found much to my surprise, that indeed I was a natural on the dance floor. Dancing has improved my balance, my walking, and miraculously cured my neuropathy. In December 2017, after just one year of dancing, I danced the Paso Doble at Plymouth Memorial Hall to over 200 people. I depicted my battle with breast cancer and my partner portrayed my doctor. The purpose behind my dance was to show others that you can come back from a life-threatening illness, and even at my age, learn something completely new that can bring you great joy. Amaze yourself, You are never too old to learn. Never say never. Shall we dance?