I realize that just a couple of posts ago, I blogged about my inability to dance. http://gstoutimore.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/when-momma-g-got-her-groove-on/ But yesterday, my nephew Ben got married, and as everyone knows, if you love someone, you have to dance at his wedding.
When Ben was growing up, he lived in Michigan, so I saw him rarely. I knew little about him except that he was a cute little boy who once threatened his younger cousin (my son) with his nunchucks in my mother’s backyard.
Several years later, Ben moved to New England, a handsome and soft-spoken young man with sparkling sapphire eyes, a quick smile and not a menacing bone in his body. He forged a life for himself in New Hampshire, and a few years later, began bringing a beautiful special friend- Heather- to family parties. And yesterday, despite an oncoming hurricane, Heather and Ben stood at the edge of the sea and exchanged marriage vows.
As soon as the ceremony ended, the rain began and a short while later, we found ourselves sitting at round tables under a large tent. Despite drips and drops from the sky, the atmosphere was festive. The tables were covered with bright yellow and blue, the sunflower centerpieces a jubilant fanfare of summer’s end. Heather and Ben danced as husband and wife, joined by their parents and the wedding party. More people joined in and I watched from my seat, as I usually do when there is dancing. Despite my years of swaying and swinging with my babies, I am still awkward and unsure when it comes to moving to music. Besides, in a world comprised of duos, I am painfully aware that I am no longer part of a pair.
The song ended and the dance floor cleared, but the DJ played on. I chatted with my brother and then hearing applause, turned to see my nephew Joshua alone on the dance floor.
Joshua has Down Syndrome. He is short and stout with big brown eyes that squint to see through thick glasses. He is guiless and sweet spirited, and because he likes everyone, thinks everyone will like him. Unabashed, Joshua launched into a freestyle interpretation of the music, moving to the beat, empowered by the cheers and clapping that ensued from the on looking crowd.
Within a moment, Heather joined Josh, and soon after, Ben. Before the song was through, the dance floor was packed. I watched my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews bobbing in cadence and wished I was free like Joshua.
The song ended, and immediately another one began. My brother Kevin grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dance floor. Reluctant at first, I hesitated. And then I realized that I could sit on the sidelines and watch other people revel, or I could take a chance. Take a chance like Heather and Ben who have no guarantees that they will be able to withstand the hurricanes that will surely come into their lives. Take a chance like Joshua, whose desire to celebrate life outweighs his disabilities.
So I danced. Badly. But I danced. And it was fun- more than fun. It was elating. Because life is about taking chances. Taking chances on young love, taking chances on acceptance and taking chances at looking foolish.