“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody…” Right, Whitney, wail on!
“I wanna feel the HEAT with somebo-day-ay-ay…” You go!
“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody…” Yes, I think we’ve established that.
“with somebody who LOVES me….”
Suddenly on the brink of tears in the middle of the company holiday party, because of an old Whitney Houston song?
The company, my new employer, has shown astonishing generosity and kindness to me in my scant one month’s time there. The very minute I learned of the company holiday party, I made a reservation and arranged for care for Angelic Daughter. Couldn’t decide on a dress to wear, so I brought two: a beaded, flapper-style sequined cocktail dress, that cost a month’s rent thirty years ago, and a tasteful black and white ball gown with three-quarter sleeves, a collar and pockets(!) The kind lady at the dry cleaner’s got it hemmed in just four days, but I didn’t have time to alter the bodice, which was made for someone at least four inches taller than I. So to keep it from gaping in the front, I held the dress down with one hand behind my back when I approached the dance floor to bob and swish around a little.
There was an inordinate amount of rap shuffled with a few oldies, including the inevitable, the unavoidable, the ubiquitous, the eternal “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Much of the dancing from the young people was, I suspect, done “ironically.” But everyone was beautifully dressed, and truly seemed to be having a great time.
I was happily sitting alone, watching the merriment. I must have gotten up to head to the bar for a refill when, on the return trip to the table, that Whitney Houston song came on. I joined in the dancing…right up until that problematic lyric.
“….with sombody who LUUUUUVS me-eeee-eee-eee..”
The somebody who loved me has been dead for over 3 years.
I didn’t expect to dance with anyone at this party, and wasn’t upset about that. So it was a shock how instantly tears formed when that lyric hit me – exposing the stark loneliness of not having someone who loved me there with me.
Not that he would have danced. Mike was the embodiment of the stereotypical “white man dancing:” stiff, awkward, no fluidity in the hips.
I sat down as soon as I realized what was happening – I was in danger of lapsing into tears in the middle of a festive, happy occasion. I got control of myself and held it together. No smeared mascara (and I was wearing mascara, and a thin streak of eyeliner, for the first time in something like twenty -five years. Astonishingly, I didn’t make a smudgy mess of it when I put it on.)
I talked to Mike as I assessed myself in the mirror before leaving the hotel room to go down to the ballroom.
“Not bad, huh, loves?”
I imagined him smiling approval.
I’m learning to live with loneliness, and to accept that it isn’t really ever going to go away. I have many wonderful new things in my life – the rooms I worked so hard to redecorate, the new job, Angelic Daughter’s amazing ability to adapt and gain independence and maintain a positive attitude in the midst of these changes. But Mike’s absence walks with me every step of the way. I think of it as a wise companion. I don’t get overexcited about much of anything, anymore, because that calm shadow reminds me how silly it is to dwell on fleeting nonsense in the presence of eternity.
Alone, again, here at my laptop, my wonderful old Vaio that Mike requisitioned from me almost as soon as I brought it home, I allow the tears to come. I thought this fourth Christmas without him would be easier. The tree is set up in a different room, the new pattern of outside lights extends the classic swag I always hang across the front porch.
But it’s not easier. Mike is still every bit as gone, and we’re still every bit as alone.
I’m planning a very quiet holiday, just the two of us at home, indulging in two quiet days of togetherness and rest, sitting with Mike’s absence. Tears that may come are part of the deal. Happiness, when it emerges, will wrap itself around the tears, and around the absence and the sorrow. It may muffle them, but I know now it can never make them disappear.
Blowing my nose, wiping my eyes and seeing Mike clearly, “regarding the tree,” as we used to do together, I remain,
Your quieter, older, slower, calmer, sadder but more grateful for each moment of smiles and tears,