Posts tagged ‘high school tragedy’

September 30, 2014

Dance On

Oh very young,
What will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while — Cat Stevens.

She just turned 17, not even two weeks ago. I knew her because her name was Emma, like my daughter’s. She was on the Bradley Farm neighborhood swim team in Herdon, VA, with my daughters. She attended Fox Mill Elementary School with my daughters. She was “tan,” like my daughters. Some people thought she and my daughters were sisters because of their likeness in complexion.

It has been 24 hours since I learned that Emma’s young life was suddenly lost last week. And even though I am not familiar with her family, it has been all I can do to keep breathing. I share from afar her family’s unimaginable heartache that her beautiful smile will no longer grace our earth.

It was with firsthand and heartfelt knowledge of losing a son that my Dad shared a letter with me yesterday that he had written years ago. It was addressed to my sister who was a college student at the time and had just learned her good friend had died from spinal meningitis.

I cling to the repeating words: Dance On. 

I write you this not only for you but also for the mother and father and family of the young woman. For all of us, there is and will be no answer to the question why.

Sometimes I say to God “What are you thinking? Old people and bad people are supposed to die (not that we won’t).  But not infants; not those just ready to take life by the hand and the heart and dance.

Haven’t You thought of all the friends, loved ones, schoolmates, and family members crushed by Your too-soon gathering of these beauties, these darlings? Don’t You know what it does to those who are left when it is done too soon?

He answers me every time and says: 


“Dance on. Your job and your duty is to dance on. 

Even when it hurts and even when you have no legs, the answer is dance on.

You have no idea of what is next and to whom you must be a blessing.

You are left; you dance. 

These whom I have gathered are Mine now and you can’t begin to know the depth of my embrace for them or the tenderness with which I kiss them. 

Your job is to hold on and dance on so that you can bring the sparkle of My love to all you touch. 

And remember this above all: you alone are responsible for your dance and must dance as if you alone were responsible for all.”

I swear, every time I feel the unbearable loss, I hear this. And it feels stupid to say, but carry on. What is left after it all is your lovely part in the dance of life. And death isn’t a final curtain call; just a different rhythm to dance to.

Class of 2015 South Lakes High School

Class of 2015
South Lakes High School

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