We signed the girls up for ballet a couple of months ago.
I don’t know why, really. I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
And so, every Saturday morning, I haul a couple of leotard, ballet slipper, pink tight wearing little four year olds to the ballet class hosted by our local community college.
They’ve been super accommodating to Jill’s needs and of course, Lucy loves it. I think she might love it a little more for the leotard and slippers than the dancing, but you know, I guess we can’t win them all.
I was surprised to find out that this class, the one I thought would be like swim class: you go, you do your weeks, and then it’s over…instead had a recital. Complete with special costumes, rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and tickets you pay for to go watch. I suppose all of that is okay, but it just surprised me. And to be honest, it was more than I thought I had signed up for.
In fact, I was kind of annoyed at the whole thing for some reason.
While we were waiting, I thought I’d fiddle with my camera settings and snapped a couple of test shots.
It wasn’t until I viewed the photos on my computer that I saw the back of this chair. So eloquently etched. Poetic even.
And it reminded me of this line from Catcher in the Rye:
“I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another ‘F*&% you’ on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn’t come off. It was hopeless, anyway. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘F*&* you’ signs in the world. It’s impossible.”
And somehow that seemed really appropriate in the moment. Because in this historic auditorium, the one with the intricate scroll work, and the beautiful archway as you enter in, there were also missing tiles in the roof and chipping paint, and a sadness about it all. Like the building was saying “I used to be pretty, you know. I used to be a spectacle. But now they’ve forgotten about me. And they spend their money on the new construction next door instead.”
But then the red velvet curtain raised, and I saw my girls.
And you better believe that I was a bawling mess behind my camera.
One of the big ballerinas helped Miss Jilly.
She may have needed some help, and she may have been a few seconds off, but hot dang if that girl didn’t do every step.
And her older-by-one-minute sister sassed it out in signature Lucy fashion.
And while one wore a solemn face of determination, the other grinned.
Always just like that.
With every plie, my heart grew three sizes bigger.
The other mamas smiled.
I smiled too. And cried.
Because this day?
We truly didn’t know if it would ever happen.
Side by side and all.
I was thankful for the dark. I tried to be quiet.
And this nervous girl, the one with the booming voice and personality the size of Texas, shyly looked for any sign of me in the audience.
Because sometimes kids have ways of showing you secret little sides of them.
And there they were.
Sisters running in a circle.
In hot pink tutus.
The way Sisters do.
They way They do.
They way They finally get to do.
And then came the final bow.
She told me right before that “I’m just shy Mommy.”
Which is a word I would have never chosen to describe her before.
But yes, Love. You are shy too.
Big Girl Ballerina had been Ursula in the Little Mermaid show they had just put on.
A spectacle of glittering costumes and elaborate details. I found it fitting that of all the shows, the one about the mermaid is the one Jill gets to be in too.
And then our Ballerina Helper had to receive her rose. The rose they gave to the graduating seniors.
So Miss Jill, walker nowhere to be seen, and in a completely different part of campus…
SHE JUST STOOD THERE.
Clapping when everyone else did.
Smiling and cheering.
And I was a blubbering mess.
I am a blubbering mess.
There was even this.
Which had me belly laughing from the audience.
That kind of laugh where you taste your own tears because you’re sobbing too.
Because yes. At the end of the day, she’s just a four year old little girl.
Just like the others.
So much more like the others than different.
Because this is the same girl, just two days old, still in the NICU shivering and shaking and a mystery to everyone has give us pause from the very beginning.
I couldn’t shake the conversation from my head. It played on loop as I stared at that stage.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Holding a two day old Lucy. My twinless twin. And I remember being more exhausted than I ever had been. And more terrified than I had ever been. And a pediatric neurologist called me on the phone. I was sitting up in bed. Cradling Lu. Swaddled like a baby burrito. The most delicious kind. My arms simultaneously full and empty.
And she said these words:
“Your daughter has suffered oxygen deprivation. It is as if she had a near drowning. Adults with that level of trauma would not be capable of getting much better. But young brains are very plastic and can do amazing things. We can’t know where she will end up, but know that her needs can be that she might never walk or talk and have severe needs her whole life…or her brain might heal itself and she will grow to be completely typical. Or anything in between. We can only wait and see.”
And there she was. Standing like a big girl. BEAMING. In a hot pink tutu.
And I wanted to scrawl my own F*%^ you to the Universe too.
Because We Got This.
But my cursing is different than the jagged scrawl in the back of that old, wooden chair.
Mine is one of triumph. And exhaustion. And the knife marks indelibly on my heart. Dug in painfully. Beautifully.
And I am SO SO SO proud.
And I know that the victorious swelling in my soul is really Thankfulness.
And a hot pink reminder, that God is so good.
No matter what.
We still have a long road to haul.
And there are still more questions than answers.
And frankly, we may never have them all.
But we serve an amazing God.
And while I am thrilled that my Sisters can share in this in this way, I must remind myself that I have to still Praise even if this day never happened.
Even if these things weren’t true.
Because Truth isn’t just the outcome.
It remains Truth even if things look different than you had hope for, prayed for, begged for.
But for today, I will swoon over my goofy ballerinas with glittered crowns askew, and I will celebrate every milestone, with pink daisies and sheer delight.
Happy Monday friends.
Find your Praise today. Rub out the ugly curses scrawled into your heart.
But leave the ones that are proclaimed with pride.
Because sometimes only four letter words will do.
*P.S. Dear Grown Up Lucy Maybe Reading This Post, Please don’t feel left out that I had almost zero pictures of you from the final bow. I promise I wasn’t playing favorites. There were giant tutus covering your sweet, freckled face so I just plain couldn’t. I love you, sweet girl. You are special and lovely. And I’m deliriously proud of you too. Swear it.
Love, the mama.