Carina swirled her silken scarves of powder blue, mint green, peach and the very palest golden cream. She moved slowly, lazily, as if in conversation with a breeze that whispered sweet nothings in her ears. She crouched low, then gradually, almost imperceptibly, straightened and grew tall, swaying in the imagined wind. When she reached her full height, she pivoted faster and faster, creating blurs of color that blended and melted into shimmers of sea and sky and sun. The stage lighting darkened. Mint green became a thrashing dark green forest. Blue-black mixed with grey to create a storm. Peach turned into jagged orange lightning. Her movements became jerky and uneven, filled with pain and despair. She fell to the stage floor moaning, raising a canopy of scarves above her head as if to protect herself from fists of pounding rain. Her movements gradually calmed and she rose again like a phoenix, in one smooth gesture of colorful wings.
Seven-year old Suzanne sat upright on her mother’s lap, tears streaming down her face, her eyes never leaving the dancer. “What’s wrong, darling?” her mother smoothed her daughter’s hair. “She’s dancing stories, Mother. I know what she’s saying.” She slipped from her mother’s embrace and ran to the aisle. “I also have stories to dance!” she shouted. Her voice somehow caught the dancer’s attention, who smiled and cried out, “Come join me.” The audience gasped as Carina tore sections from the peach and the blue scarves and handed Suzanne the smaller fragments of silk as the little girl clambered up on stage.
I never forgot that evening. When life was filled with challenges, I danced. When the sunlit sky warmed me, I danced. When I fell in love, I danced. When I lost my dear husband, I danced.
Now my family is gathering to give thanks for another year, masks in place, properly distanced.
“What are you thankful for, Gramma Suzanne?” I turn to my granddaughter and start the well-known story – silken scarves of powder blue, mint green, and pale golden cream. “Don’t forget peach,” says my grandson, eyes alight with understanding.