My daughter Valerie cracked her fortune cookie, let out a little gasp, and quickly traded its contents for mine, saying, “This one’s for you, Mom.”
I hope you dance.
Yes, this one was special. It had been barely a month since my husband Earl died, after nine months living with pancreatic cancer. He’d told me several times before his transition, “You will live a wonderful life, Julie. You’ll see.” I think Val was feeling Earl’s urging when she read the cookie’s concise message.
I’ve often noted that most fortune cookies don’t actually tell fortunes.
Most of them capture truisms, statements about what is. A fortune predicts something coming to pass in the future, and most fortune cookies I’ve opened don’t make predictions. This one was in that not-a-fortune category; rather than predicting, it expressed a wish as a short and sweet sentiment. I smiled and accepted Val’s gift.
Soon after that event, I came across another interesting variation of the dancing theme in a quote passed around on social media.
“I want to love you with a freedom that makes you want to dance all night long, with or without me, because I know how much you love to dance.”
This one also resonated nicely with Earl’s proclamation on my future. Isn’t it a wonderful thought? Dance all night long, with or without me, [because that’s the way I love you, with an unconditional freedom]. I think it reflects the best of loving intentions.
I’ve heard it said many times that we honor the dead by choosing to live well. As I forge ahead without my late husband’s presence, I will live well for the both of us. His death is a magnifier of my life, bringing into sharper focus what truly matters most. It’s still up to me to honor those priorities, to make the most of the time I have here.
Grief can open us up to life’s breadth and depth. It can open our hearts to illuminate our life purposes and experiences in wholly new directions. When the reality of death is fully accepted, and even embraced, grief can be a life-giving motivator. Grief can teach us how to make our daily actions become spontaneously choreographed adventures, revealing truths about each precious day and each cherished relationship.
What sort of legacy will I leave when it’s my time to go? Will I have honored my greatest intentions? Expressed my greatest gifts? Will I have danced the dance only I can dance?
Time will tell. Meanwhile, I leave you with my one burning question:
Will you dance?