Of course we didn’t know it at the time, but the reason we all danced our hearts out that weekend was because the foundation of our family had already shifted in its bed. With a mighty groan and heavy shaking it had turned over deep in its roots, and we were dancing to avoid admitting it was happening, and also probably to say goodbye.
We each knew it somewhere deep down, I’m sure. But to be the first to say the words, even a whisper, was such treachery to our beloved unit.
So we closed our eyes and let our bodies go wild, lest we look into each other’s faces and see the reflection of what we each felt inside: fear of losing this thing we loved and protected for so long.
No one was mourning yet. We were still grasping, clutching tightly, refusing to let go. Demanding it not be over.
— — — — —
In the winter the lake we grew up next to would freeze over. Miles of walkable water, bright and beautiful. Sometimes we’d go on family treks across the ice, a jolly little troop, no direction in particular. Just out into the lake. Sometimes it would be frozen like that for weeks during the coldest days of the year.
But when the sun finally came out you could hear the ice ping across the surface of the lake, like a lost whale song, low and clear.
And that’s how you knew the ice was thawing, shifting around in its crusty bed, ice plates forming and pushing into each other.
That’s how you knew the jig was almost up.
There’s still a day or two where you can ignore the sounds and keep venturing out onto the ice. Nature takes its time, and you can get in one or two last ice treks across the ice before returning to solid ground for Spring.
— — — — —
That’s how we knew it was up for us, too. We all heard the sad whale songs, pinging across the surface of our family front: and we knew it was only a matter of time.
That weekend of our little sister’s wedding a dozen fractures had already begun, but we were all still there. We threw ourselves into the music as only a family saying goodbye to the ice does. Eyes closed and with wild abandon.
When it was my turn to choose I played that one song. And somehow the dancing became even more feverish and pronounced. The words meant things. And we all danced it out together.
If I ever feel better
(We flung our arms and stomped our feet.)
Remind me to spend some good time with you
(We shook our heads and swung our hips.)
If you give me your number…
We held hands and spun each other round, a jolly troop headed out across the melting ice for the last time. Because we still had a couple more days before the ice was no longer safe, before the jig was finally up.
When it’s all over I’ll let you know.