Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful: One Year in a Friend’s Life

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.       –Agnes de Mille

One Year Ago

My girlfriend left a message and told me to call her back when I had the chance. Busy with an assorted number of inconsequential matters, it was a few hours later when I finally sat down to return her call. Usually there was nothing important to discuss, just matters of what was happening that weekend, when we would get together, maybe some local gossip.

“Hi, Nancy, what’s up?”

“ I am going to have brain surgery.”

The out-of-the-blue nature of the sentence and my total unpreparedness for what I heard left me speechless. I sat there for several seconds, holding the phone, trying to comprehend, not knowing what to say.

Nancy had been having headaches and minor seizures occasionally over the past few years. Her doctor told her to keep track of them. She had one in the presence of a cousin, a medical professional. Her cousin told her to see her doctor – now.

The result, after visits to specialists and tests, was the discovery of the tumor. Surgery was scheduled quickly.

The result was the best it could be. The surgeon removed the tumor. It was benign. No brain damage.

Recovery was fairly quick. No driving for several weeks, rest, take it easy and limit activity, then slowly resume a normal schedule. She missed an out of town wedding and some other summer events, but by fall resumed normal activities.

One Year Later

The dance recital was Saturday night. Several of Nancy’s friends, her husband and two sons attended. She loves ballet, attends professional performances whenever possible, and a few years ago began ballet lessons abandoned decades ago.

Every year the director of the dance academy produces a ballet performed by her students. Usually dance school recitals are one class after another coming onstage, performing for a few minutes, leaving the stage, followed by another class, continuing until all classes perform. This was different. The director choreographed and directed an entire ballet presented by academy students.

Nancy had not participated in the show in previous years. This was her first recital. She spent hours in classes over the years and additional hours weeks before practicing and rehearsing. Learning the choreography, rehearsing with the other dancers, preparing her solo – required huge amounts of time, dedication, effort and willpower. Willpower to carefully watch her diet – ballet costumes reveal a lot of what most 60-somethings prefer to cover up.

The recital went off without a hitch. The story, “La Fille Mal Gardee,” (The Wayward Daughter), a comic ballet, proved ideal for the dance students.

Nancy is the dancer on the left.
Nancy performed beautifully. She smiled broadly most of her time on stage. It was obvious she knew her routine and relished her performance time. It was a joy to see her hard work result in such a wonderful accomplishment.

Her family and friends convened at her home after the performance, congratulating her. We sat around, drank and ate and talked until after midnight –celebrating Nancy’s accomplishment not only that evening, but marveling how far she had come over the past year. It was a celebration of life. 
Nancy and me.


  1. Amen to all that, Meryl! It was indeed a joy to be present to witness Nancy making her dream come true. She's an inspiration to us all: Dream it. Make it happen. Now.

  2. Good for Nancy for following her dream, even with a few obstacles!
    Kudos to her.

  3. How wonderful! I kept holding my breath, hoping you weren't going to say something happened, and instead it is a fabulous story of courage and life! Perfect! Thank you so much for sharing Nancy's story with me.

  4. That is one inspirational story. Yeah, Nancy!

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  6. Absolutely LOVE happy endings! Thanks for this one. Lovely read, so happy you shared.