The Summer I Danced

Either I’m fearless or I’m a crazy woman.

I love to dance.

I’m always the first person on the dance floor, the first to sway my hips, the first person to move my feet in an ever-widening circle when music infuses my soul.

Each summer, Southern California hosts hundreds of outdoor concerts, featuring musicians from big-name performers, to cover bands, to up-and-coming artists hoping to get their big break.

Two summers ago, I was too sick to leave the house, too sick to care about entertainment, too sick to get out of bed for more than a few hours a day.

When I braved the outside world, it was to go to a doctor’s appointment, to go to a nurses’ clinic, or to go to another laboratory where seemingly endless tests were administered.

Tasteful, muted Muzak filled the waiting rooms, its sole purpose to keep patients from sinking further into depression. The ambiance was subdued, generic notes blending into one another and augmenting the wall decor.

Last summer I finished sixteen months of cancer treatment, sixteen months of hell and not knowing if I would make it out on the other side alive. I was tired and weak, but nominally functional. I was in remission.

And I had heart damage, possibly permanent, a left ventricle which didn’t close properly thanks to the side effects of chemotherapy. Heartbeat irregularity exacerbated my exhaustion.

An Echo Cardiogram predicted a 60% chance of heart attack in the next ten years. I had to be careful.

Les and I pored over websites listing music concerts in Orange County and LA. He thought it would help heal me to ease back into life and recreation. We chose ten concerts: ethnic, folk, classic rock, rhythm and blues. We accepted that I might not be well enough to attend all ten, but ten was our goal. We would bring blankets and picnic food. All I had to do was to sit under palm trees and stars, and enjoy the music.

Five minutes into the first concert, I was on my feet. Hips swayed, hands wove patterns through the air, and bare toes etched tattoos in the grass. I was mindful not to exert myself, but I didn’t stop moving until the last notes faded into night air.

Every concert, in a capsule of infinite minutes, I rose as if summoned by forces outside of myself and moved non-stop. I was possessed by a siren song — and for two hours I forgot my illness, I forgot the months of pain, and I forgot my chance of heart attack.

The next day I slept while my body recuperated. After a few days, I was ready to go again.

I understood the risk. I understood the fragility of a weakened heart, and I understood that I would take that risk as long as I was able.

Life has no purpose unless we find our joy.

Either I’m fearless or I’m a crazy woman, but I did not survive cancer twice to sit on my ass and watch the world go by.

When the music plays, I dance.

Author: MeredithLaskow

Artist, writer, and unrepentant nerd girl.

11 thoughts on “The Summer I Danced”

  1. “Life has no purpose unless we find our joy.” You are my inspiration…far too often, I do find myself sitting on my butt watching the world go by…a variety of reasons…but none of them ample justification to not get up and dance more, even just to go out on my beautiful back deck and dance with the wind, or better yet, dance with God. You have just opened a window in my heart and mind…I’ll remember you getting up and dancing, and I promise myself now to do the same. I can already feel the ripples tickling my toes… (thank you!)

    1. Sharon, we get so caught up in everyday patterns, we forget to break the routine. It’s easy to be a passive participant in our life, but joy is found when we reach beyond the routine, when we dance or sing or try something new. Your heart will always tell you what you need to do ♥

  2. Oh Meredith!!! You describe it so well! I used to dance in the early hours of the morning when our house slept with my family. My oldest child, Susan, was very ill. And I needed to keep sane. And somehow believe in the power and glory of Life. And … I love Music … always the Music. I haven’t danced that way for some years now … but it’s not That long ago. Anyway, I heard a reggae song I love just this past week end. And I started moving my shoulders, my head … you know the drill. Anyway, Susan died when she was 11. She has been among the spheres or in heaven for a long long time. She loved Music too … and to dance. I still listen to the music she loved. And it brings her back again to me for a few moments. Music and dancing is Magic!!! I wish that I could have seen you with your gorgeous lilac wig … dancing until the last whisper quieted for evening. Good for You, Meredith. You’re not crazy! You are very brave! And Courageous! And I LOVE YOUR LILAC WIG!!!!

    1. Thank you Iva! Now that my hair has returned, the wig is back on the shelf, but it always makes me smile when I see it. Before my Mom died, my sister and I sat with her in the hospice all day for a month— and when my sister went out to get lunch, I danced in the room while Mom slept. Mom loved to dance, too, and I’d like to think that she felt me dancing for her.

  3. Meredith, you are a fearless, joyful person and an incredible writer! This summer Tri-City Park has summer concerts. Hope to see you there! I’ll join you in the dance! Much love! 😊💕🌷

  4. I love to dance, too. Dave not so much. So he was quite happy when the dr. Said no. After breast surgery/radiation I had hip replacement and then knee replacement. Because of back problems he said no. I do miss it. Keep moving!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *