DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my
sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped
package. “This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is
lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the
slip. It was exquisite silk, handmade and trimmed with
a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an Astronomical
figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the
first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for
special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend
to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death.
I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the midwestern town where my sister’s
family lives. I thought about all the things that she
hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the
things that she had done without realizing that they
I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to
recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not
“saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal
for every special event — such as losing a pound,
getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it.
My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out
$28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing.
I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties;
clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have
noses that function as well as my party-going
friends. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing
their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or
hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what my sister would’ve done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food.
I’m guessing because I’ll never know. It’s those little
things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch
with… someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain
letters that I intended to write one of these days.
Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband often
enough how much I truly love him. I’m trying very hard
not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would
add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching, and love like it’s never going to hurt…. People say true
friends must always hold hands, but true friends don’t
need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there.
If you’ve received this, it is because someone cares for you. If you’re too busy to take the few minutes that it would take right now to forward this to people, would it be the first time you didn’t do that little thing that would make a difference in your relationships? I can tell you it certainly won’t be the last. Take a few minutes to send this to a few people you care about, just to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
Enjoy the moment and if you have a circle of friends,
don’t be surprised to see this more than once.