My daughter twirls like the world's top, spun up and released. I am in awe of her strength and beauty and happiness. I don't own her. I forget sometimes when I call her my daughter. She whirls away from me, very much her own being, yet so much like me, it overwhelms me to remember being a child. It makes me forgive myself and be kind to those parts of me I have punished for much too long.
Dancing Queen is a fine song. Goofy and fun. It reminds me of my family's weekend get togethers as a child. Music blaring. The smell of frying patacones and peppered squid. And a cousin or aunt taken suddenly by a song, scream-singing out of tune and dancing until we were all dancing. Yes, Dancing Queen is perfectly acceptable, non-emotional music. I never would have imagined myself blinking back tears, suddenly overcome by it in the basement of a Presbyterian Church on Route 70. I danced, Thor in my arms, smelling his sweet head, Beezus spinning around us. We take a Music Together class, where we sing and play instruments and dance, sometimes we march, in a room full of other toddlers, babies and their mamas or grandmas.
Kid things are always twinged with heartbreak for me. At some point, every class, I am reminded that this exact moment is over before it began. They are only here for a moment, then onto the next stage. And I can sometimes see the teenager in the baby, or the middle aged man, or the beautiful woman being born into adulthood. And so, if I drift, even for a moment, into thoughts larger than singing the Earth is our Mother, I can easily find myself grieving all these children.
Our wacky awesome teacher goes for it. Always. Exactly what you want from a teacher of a music class, she sings loudly, and cheers the kids on. She remembers every name, and delights in something about each one of them, even the most unlovable among them. She never uses, or seems to even think, the word naughty. She sees adventurous, rambunctous, curious, brave, daring, fearless. Every class there is one song, not a sanctioned Music Together song, but a song to dance to in whatever way you choose. Her self-interpretative dance song is always some wildly inappropriately 70s disco music, and the kids couldn't love it more. I love it too. I do the hustle with a kid on each hip, or spin my girl around and around and around until she falls to the ground. I was part of the action today, and then, though I was still dancing, I felt like an observer seeing myself in the third person. Far removed from ABBA, or Beezus, or the other mothers, I watched them dance, unself-consciously with their children. The kids running in circles, or bouncing from foot to foot. And despite myself, I began tearing up, and trying to stare at the ceiling, hiding my tears.
My daughter is dead. She will be two in December.
I felt like collapsing. I wanted to scream her name and pull at my hair. She is dead. Fuck. My beautiful daughter is dead.
"Please excuse my tears," I felt like explaining, "but joy reminds me of grief."