Monday, May 12, 2014

Grief: Skating on Thin Ice

Just to prove I'm perfectly human - if you read the last post - Yes, folks, I did manage to leave my laptop on the train.  So...I am winging it in so many ways.  Learning that I am more dependent on it than I thought.  I am working now on a computer I don't know how to use.  Trying to figure it out.  Kind of like grief.  Nothing familiar any more but still typing away.

So...late at night when I should be doing other things - like sleeping!!  This is what I wanted to write about and haven't for many many days and nights.

I was in London a while ago and was lucky to see Dancing on Ice with Torvill and Dean.  Torvill and Dean won Olympic Gold in 1984 ice dancing to Bolero.  It is amazing.  You can find it on You Tube.  I can't give you the link because...well - unfamiliar computer.  They have been sponsoring Dancing on Ice for, I think, 9 years.  It is like Dancing with the Stars.  Amateur ice skaters learning from professionals and then competing. 

I always feel like I'm skating on thin ice with grief.  I think I'm doing fine, even balancing, trying a new move, and then the ice breaks under me and I'm flailing around again - gasping for air.

When people ice dance or ice skate as a couple they have to be in perfect unison.  You can do beautiful and exciting things as a solo ice dancer - but you cannot do alone what you can do with a partner.  One of the judges said it is all about placing.  The professional skaters go too fast to see it.  With the other ones you can see them signaling each other.  You can watch how carefully the man places the woman exactly where she should be.  If the woman falls, it is not her fault.  It is both their faults.  He may not have placed her gently exactly where she should land in order to go to the next move.  There is also this incredible trust as the man lifts the woman - twirls her - sometimes her head just inches from the ice - sometime her body spinning high about his head as he holds her up with one arm.  There is a move called the death spiral because of how close the woman's head is to the ice.  We grieving people know all about the death spiral, don't we?  I remembered - not physically of course - my husband never would have let me come near him if I had sharp blades on my feet or anywhere!! - how I was lifted.  How I was held.  How I was placed.  How together we could do things we couldn't do separately.  I had welcome tears running down my face as I thought about that.

I also had smiles.  And more tears at lyrics to some of the love songs.  And more smiles.

I saw Torvill and Dean many years ago when they were still young.  I have never seen anything quite as brilliant.  Then they came to where my husband and I lived.  I couldn't go -  I had to be out of town.  So I told my husband how brilliant they were and got him two excellent seats so he could go with a friend..  When I came home he said to me, "The women I gave the tickets to had a very good time."  I almost killed him.  I couldn't believe I had given him such a special present and he gave it away.  I didn't kill him.  I forgave him.  We did that a lot - hurt each other, disappointed each other, forgave each other.  The love lasted through everything.

Torvill and Dean are now each close to 60.  They don't ice dance like they did when they were young.  They don't do Bolero like they did when they were young.  But they are willing to do it imperfectly - as they can now - for themselves and for us.  British people don't give standing ovations as often as Americans do - but when Torvill and Dean did Bolero at Wembley Arena  (which is a huge stadium) everyone stood and cheered and cheered and cheered.  Christopher Dean said it would be sad when they performed it for the last time - but they would always have it in their hearts.  Being willing to do something differently, imperfectly.  Knowing that some things do eventually end - but they live in our hearts.  We can be sad that they can't be done any more, but we can be oh so happy that they once were.

When Christopher Dean was making his way around the ice I was one of the people whose hand he shook.  For a while I had ice dancer DNA on my hand!!

One of the amateur skaters fell.  She made a funny face as if to say - Oops - but she didn't stay down - she got right back up and finished her routine. Isn't that what it's all about.  Getting back up.

I wanted so much to share all this with my husband.  I can't - not the way I want to.  But I went by myself.  I had such a good time.  I showed up and allowed myself to be delighted.

It was raining.  I can't walk and think at the same time.  So after it was over I was thinking of each splendid moment as I walked out into the rain. I fell down.  My umbrella went flying.  It was London so people came up to see if I was okay.  I kept saying so they would know I was all right, "It's okay.  I don't know how to ice dance but I know how to fall!"  I do.  I know how to fall physically and not hurt myself.  Partly from doing comedy improv and doing pratfalls - partly just from being klutzy and having my body react to protect itself.  Since my husband died I've fallen a lot emotionally.  Sometimes it takes a long time to get back up - sometimes a short time.   I know how to fall. 

When one of the ice dancers was about to go on the ice he said, "Let's go make shapes!!"  The blades make patterns in the ice.  Isn't that what life is all about? Each day - no - each moment - gives us clean ice.  We need to go make shapes.  We can't make the shapes we used to make.  The shapes will different.  But they can still be beautiful.  That's it, folks.  That was what I took away from the night - Go make shapes!!  xo

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