Just a Dance...


   It’s just a dance, really…An innocent form of expression, the simplest rocking motion, back and forth, side-to-side, in the gentle sway of time.  His friends are all here, decked out in luxe finery, here to celebrate this “joyous occasion.”  He’s getting married, you see.  He’s fallen in love.

    “Don’t leave me,” I want to scream, to hurl my Prada-clad body at his feet, begging him to cease this nonsense and come home where he belongs.

    I can’t help but remember those late nights when the phone would ring; when I’d drag my weary body from slumber’s ironclad embrace and reach for the cordless sitting on my nightstand.  His faded picture would be hidden in there, buried between my diary and the soft green handkerchiefs he bought for me in Ireland.

    “I can’t do it anymore,” He’d say quietly, that angelic voice cloaked with the thick cover of tears he tried so hard to conceal.  He could never fool me.  Always, he’d come to me with his problems…late at night, early in the morning, whether I was leaving for work or coming home on the weekends.  My heart would race sometimes when watching that little green light blink on the answering machine.  I’d wonder into which debacle he had managed to work his way, and sometimes my heart would stop completely when the message would only hold silence for thirty seconds before a strangled, shaky gasp would come over the line.

    “I miss you,” He’d cry, and each time I’d die a little inside.  They say it gets easier as time goes on, but each time he left me I’d feel the gaping wound widen just a little, until I’d all but given up hope of it ever closing again.

    And then he sliced it some more.

    I remember the day clearly.  Running up onto my wooden porch, where I sat with a magazine and an icy glass of tea, he looked at me, those crystal eyes sparkling, and told me about HER.

    He’d found someone new…someone else to tend to his wounds and clean up his messes and be his protector and champion.

    She is far more beautiful than I could ever be, with wide brown eyes that smile even in the face of shadows, and perfectly plush bee-stung lips that blush crimson even without the faintest trace of make-up.  She’s smart, with a degree in biochemistry and a penchant for 19th Century poets, and she can make a simple violin sing heaven’s praises all with the simple flutter of her graceful, slender fingers.  She is, though it defies all logic, perfect.

    It kills me to see him with her.

    I suppose I should have known that it couldn’t last forever, that eventually Josh would find someone else to cling to when the stormy seas of life tossed him mercilessly to and fro…but I never once expected it to be so soon.

    I remember the look of utter exhaustion on his face when that awful lawsuit struck, and the open, unrestrained tears that streaked down his chiseled features when it was finally over.  He wiped those tears on the sleeve of my brand-new dress and walked bravely outside, facing those piranhas that call themselves reporters with the details of the settlement clutched in his right hand.  He called me later that night, after the fuss and the hoopla showed no signs off dying down, and asked me what he should do.  He said that he just didn’t understand why life was dealing him such a hard hand, and why people didn’t seem to realize what he was going through.

    Though I wanted to tell him to suck it up and think of how fortunate he was, I managed to bite my tongue and tell him that once again, no matter what, I would be by his side.

    She is by his side now.

    I suppose I should have seen it coming.  When he began working her into conversations every chance he got, or when I would see her with him on TV, I would just dismiss it.  She would never, EVER have the love that we shared.  That love was irreplaceable, immutable, cemented by time and experience…I just never realized that the love he had for her was a different kind of love.

    I’ve been trying for months to find some sort of glaring fault that I could throw at Josh and make him see that she can’t possibly be the one he wants…that he can’t possibly love her, that she can’t possibly be what he needs…but time and time again, I’ve come up empty.  She has her faults, to be sure…she doesn’t know how to make a lemon meringue pie and if she was any worse at Crazy Eights she could lose to a four-year old…but…somehow…he’s overlooked that.  He sees something in her that he could never see in me.

    The night I found out they were to be married, I hardly slept at all.  I kept tossing and turning and watching the clock blink endlessly from one number to the next, trying to make sense of it all.  I kept poring over old pictures of the two of us, our faces dewy and youthful, trapped in the cold hands of time.  I cried until my nose was raw and red and my eyes threatened to swell shut, and then I cried some more.  My pillow was lumpy and wet and cold under my flushed cheeks, and I remember how he used to crawl closer to me in bed when trying to escape the relentless attacks of nightmares.

    I laid in bed for hours, reminiscing, telling myself that it had to be okay, that I had to be happy for him, that the wedding would come and go and I would be all right.

    Today, his wedding day, has been the longest day of my life.

    He cradles her close to his strong, lean chest, those perfect lips no doubt murmuring endearments quietly into her ear.  She holds his hand tightly, as though she’s afraid he’ll be stolen from her grasp, and I don’t blame her one bit.  His eyes are watery and filled with love, and before I can turn away he’s pressed a kiss to her temple, stroking her hair lovingly, like one would a treasured china doll.

    The music continues to ebb and flow as the couples at this joyous occasion continue to dance in time.  I try to find the strength and courage to get up and join them, but my weary legs remained plastered to this cheap plastic chair.  I feel a hand grasp mine and I turn suddenly, smiling weakly into a youthful face shining with sympathy and understanding.

    “It’s okay, Mrs. Chasez.  Dorothy loves him.”

    “I know, Justin, I know,” I sigh, and as my son looks up at me from dancing with his beautiful new bride, I manage a soft smile.

    “I love you, mom,” He mouths, and those tears I had been trying so hard to cage finally burst free.  But, they are not, I am surprised to discover, tears of sorrow.  They are tears of joy, tears of hope, tears of promise.  I am no longer the only woman in this young man’s life…and Joshua, my son, my oldest boy, is finally, FINALLY happy.

    Let the dance begin.

2001  ~A.