Then my grandmother passed away and the theory got put into practice. I suddenly found myself, not only handling funeral arrangements and giving a eulogy, but I also had to gig and sub my friend's classes for six weeks. I was dancing in some capacity six to seven nights a week, performing and teaching in a world where now my only grandparent was finally gone. I felt like I had to postpone my grieving because so many responsibilities made "life go on" even though some of it felt like someone else's life since I was teaching someone else's classes. Not only that, a week after my grandmother was interred in the mausoleum, we buried my sister-in-law's grandfather. Two weeks after that, we buried my husband's cousins' grandmother. Suddenly it was as if the universe wanted to get me very acquainted with death and grief, not just my own, but the grief of others. I listened and watched as tears, anger, secrets, and shock permeated everyone and everything around me. There were moments of laughter too. We should be mad about the tall, thin, pale and ghoulish-looking mortician who cracked an "I'm burning" joke to the priest who accidentally sprinkled some holy water on him, but it was so absurd, it was kind of a relief. Worse was the funeral saleswoman, who had sold my grandmother the arrangements, passing out her marketing materials and bragging "I did this" as soon as the funeral was over. And yet, in all that grief, the nonsense of such a vulgar act didn't really affect us. It was just cause for cynical laughter.
The sweetness came in seeing family operating in a new manner. Being more honest and remembering to say "I love you" or "How are you?" more often. Sweetness came in not "sweating the small stuff". The sweetness came in teaching class. A slow arm warm-up, executed Tai Chi style, brings everyone to the present. A "puzzle" of a heel-work step becomes a practice in snapping you back out of your mind and into life. The joy of seeing students grasp something they didn't know just six weeks before, reminds you that life is lived for each other. After living through so many deaths, our families celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday and a baby shower for my other sister-in-law. Life goes on and in cycles of birth and death and in that joy and grief we meet, we find each other. That is the sweetness. Flamenco reminds me of it every day.
Letra de Soleá:
"Soy piedra y perdí mi centro
y me arrojaron al mar
y al cabo de tanto tiempo
ahy mi centro vine a encontrar."
Translation of Soleá verse:
"I am stone and I lost my center,
and I got tossed out to sea,
and after a good length of time,
there (the sea) is where I found my center".