Never Too Old To Learn

never too old to learn ballroom dancing
I always envied people who could dance. But I was the person sitting awkwardly on the sidelines at every party, feeling miserable. I wished I could be like the other people who could get up and move to the music without being embarrassed that everyone else was watching. Like millions of others, I have watched “Dancing With The Stars” and have been incredulous that in a few short weeks, complete rookies could become accomplished ballroom dancers, but alas that could never be me. I was far too old.

Encounters With Cancer

When my husband, Herman got brain cancer, we were at a Bar Mitzvah. There was dancing after dinner, I was painfully aware that this might be the last time that I might dance with him in public. So I shuffled around the dance floor with him a couple of times, weeping quietly into his chest and hoped nobody noticed. I was a basket case and could not wait to leave and go home.

In the following months, I had been drawing up a bucket list of experiences I wanted my husband to have one last time before he died. I sadly realized 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 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, Herman 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.

Shortly afterward, I too got cancer. During 2015, 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 on Pandora and paced the length of my house. Strangely enough, I found my walking was far more enjoyable if 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. By December of 2016, I was gaining in strength but I still wobbled as I walked, looking like a very old woman.

Remembering My Dream

One night, as I listening to my music while walking, I remembered that an unfulfilled dream had been 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 that I should go and learn to dance.

I contacted Fred Astaire who told me that my previous unused lessons had not expired and I was entitled to 4 free lessons! I was thrilled but understandably very nervous before I had my first lesson. I had a whole lifetime of thinking 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. I do not quite know what happened, but I was enjoying myself. I was amazed! Afterward, I walked towards my car with tears in my eyes and I heard my husband’s voice saying ” Merry Christmas, Honey. This is my gift to you”.

Much To My Surprise

The rest you could say is history. I found much to my surprise, that indeed I was a natural on the dance floor. Dancing was that outward physical expression of all the emotions I could feel inside when I listened to music. Dancing improved my balance, my walking and miraculously cured my neuropathy. I explored different dance types to find my favorites. In December 2017, after just one year of dancing, I danced a choreographed Paso Doble where I depicted my battle with breast cancer and my partner danced as my doctor. The purpose behind my dance was to show others that you can come back from a life-threatening illness, and learn something completely new that can bring you great joy. Amaze yourself and step out of your comfort zone. You just might find as I did that even at my age, you are never too old to learn.

Posted in Cancer, Inspiration

Subscribe

Enter your email address below to receive notices of workshops, speaking engagements and inspirational messages.

.