Brown Eyed Girl pulsed from the band shell while my two little blue and green eyed girls spun around the dance floor with their daddy. As darkness descended on my hometown, swirling, patterned lights bounced off the towering trees above the concrete slab in front of the stage. I sat on a bench, just 10 feet from the action, mesmerized and peaceful just taking it all in. I relaxed my shoulders, and set the half-eaten plate of funnel cake down beside me. I smiled, as a tear threatened to find its way to my eye. I felt the beat throb and bounce and jump, letting it pass through my body, the rhythm settling in my belly, that full yet empty space where our lost little love lingers.
And even in this moment, when the beauty and love and wonder surrounded me, the sadness started to creep in. My mind began to follow the trail of “what-ifs and could-have-beens.” How happy I would be if my belly were truly full, if I could rest my hand there and feel life. I was slipping down into the dark space, the cold and lonely caverns in the far back of my mind where demons lurk. I didn’t want to go there, so I decided to stay here. I found a way back. “Heading down south to the land of the pines, I’m thumbing my way into North Carolina…” came streaming through the speakers, and I knew this was my ticket. I joined my little family on the dance floor, twirling and two-stepping and tapping along to my girls’ favorite song.
The beat goes on, even when we don’t. And when we’re able, we can let go of where we are, and just let it carry us to where we need to be. Dancing in the dark on a cool September night with our loved ones, instead of watching highlight reels of grief and regret alone in our minds.