On August 31st, my wife and I performed this showcase routine in memory of our first child, who passed away earlier this Spring. As swing dancers, we felt it was a fitting tribute: for nine months our daughter was our consistent third dancer partner, bouncing along to the music she could hear and feel from the womb.
In all honesty, I was not sure how people would react to such a simple and melancholy routine. I expected some polite applause and little more. The choreography is basic, largely swingouts with accentuated moments of musicality suggested by Dax & Sarah who provided us with invaluable help on the routine. This simplicity is in stark contrast to the other showcase routines that many had worked on months in advance to perfect complicated rhythms and sequences. Furthermore Lindy Hop is a joyous and celebratory dance, one hardly associated with grief. Frankly, the tremendous response we actually got was rather overwhelming.
Nevertheless, I really only have two creative outlets: I know how to write, and I know how to dance. Ultimately no matter what an artist's medium is, the intense pain of something like the loss of a child is inevitably going to be channeled and expressed through their art. While cathartic, performing this routine taxed me immensely. In those three to four minutes, the memories I carry of her brief but intense life came flooding back. Leaving the floor I felt drained: physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
What made it all worth it was talking to people, many of them complete strangers, and hearing their reactions. A handful of parents confided in me that the routine reminded them of just how precious their own children are to them. Some people reflected on their own loved ones who have passed away. Others called or emailed loved ones who had lost children themselves to check in and see how they were doing. I even was able to refer a couple of families dealing with child and sibling loss to The Compassionate Friends, the support group that my wife and I have attended since our daughters passing.
If anything I hope we were able to let people know that:
it is ok to be sad,
it is ok to grieve for the ones we have lost,
it is ok for us to remember them,
and it is ok to cry.
In her short time with us, our daughter taught me so much above love and life. It is hardly a surprise that she is still inspiring people even after she is gone.
Good night sweetheart. . .