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She danced her heart out

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She wore a mask to her dance recital yesterday.

We both had our temperatures checked upon arrival.

I had to put my contact information on a sign in sheet.

We left her daddy and her brothers at home.

She danced three dances to a room barely filled with people - all spaced six feet apart.

She danced on a makeshift stage in front of an audience that was completely masked.

She couldn’t see their smiles. Couldn’t make out faces.

But she danced her heart out.

I watched with pride as she lit up the room during her hip hop routine.

I watched in awe as she and her teammates performed their tap dance- a dance they learned entirely via Zoom.

So many thoughts and emotions rushed through me.

Her favorite dance was performed last. It was a musical theater number to “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan. She was Michael Darling. Her team had just taken this dance to competition in early March before our lives abruptly came to a halt. This was a dance I’d seen dozens of times. I was entirely familiar with it.

But I sobbed as I watched it. I sobbed because so many of the things that made that dance worthy of their first place trophy back in March had to be removed to meet CDC guidelines. No partner work. No hand holding. No adorable high fives and hip bumps among the lost boys.

I sobbed as I watched my daughter and her dance friends shine despite the darkness surrounding them.

I sobbed as I witnessed resilience take stage alongside them.

And I sobbed because these children were absolutely amazing.

Despite all the sacrifice and all they’ve lost over these last few months, they still managed to make the best of things.

They learned dances through Zoom.

They kept six feet away from some of their very best friends and sent air hugs and air fist bumps to each other when they really wanted to hug and laugh and take up each other’s space.

They wore their darn masks.

And they danced their hearts out.

I will never not cry when watching my daughter on stage, but this year’s tears were different.

They were bittersweet.

They were for all she’s lost. Her entire dance season. Time with her friends. Normalcy.

For all she’s gained. Fortitude. Determination. Pluck. Adaptability.

For all she’s learned. And for all she’s taught me.

We can do hard things.

Sometimes we have to make the best of crummy situations.

Hard work pays off.

Commitment to something sometimes means showing up even under unusual and inconvenient circumstances.

The world opens up when we face our fears.

It’s best to take things one step at a time.

It is, in fact, possible to wear a mask.

A smile can change someone’s day.

Life isn’t always fair, but it’s what we make of it.

No matter how bad things seem or how hard things are, the show must go on.

The show will go on.

We might as well dance our hearts out.

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