Since I am on the topic of dancing, I was encouraged to tell you about the last dance I ever had with Lance. Yesterday happened to have been the two month anniversary since my love died, so it isn’t surprising between my dance post and the memories I would have this story in my mind.
It was during last year’s holiday cruise, we’ve been taking for years now, since the millennium actually. We discovered cruising over the holidays was the perfect antidote for the craziness which appears to cloak most normally sane people with some kind of driven madness compelling them to be rude, walk like zombies, and spend like drunken sailors.
It was a perfect way to escape; slow, elegant and seductive we found cruising was our ticket to sanity at the end of the year. We would each pack fabulous clothing, he packed up his tuxedoes and two velvet smoking jackets (no, he didn’t ever smoke) in dark green and black, and of course his three pair of velvet evening slippers, never once forgetting the “devil shoes” I made him buy, after Phyllis and I were enamored with a certain bon vivant's shoes, one who occupied the penthouse and invited us for cocktails one formal night during one of our recharge cruises.
Lance aways wore them once per cruise, on New Years Eve.
I always bought a new gown or three, carefully choosing colors I had jewelry to match. But I digress.
For a few weeks, Lance and I could suspend reality, living in a glamourous environment where all of our alter egos could be indulged. Yes, usually it was that good.
With Lance in his wheelchair we always made a grand entrance...everyone would look at the couple gliding in, or seeming to, as pushing a wheelchair on a moving floor while wearing a long gown and high heels was a delicate maneuver at best. This is exactly why I always had my gowns checked and hemmed a teeny bit shorter in front, to accommodate the extra length bending forward...and would also help to explain why I tried not to get too low of a plunging neckline...my breasts did not need any encouragement to fall out and distract me from the pushing job at hand, or the handsome man I was standing behind. (Besides, if I let go of the wheelchair to shove them back in, one good wave pushing the ship upwards could result in me being knocked off and splayed with tire tracks...and God knows where he would end up.) We made quite the dashing couple if I do say so myself.
On this particular cruise it was New Years Eve. As was our custom, our first stop was the cocktail lounge, where we were joined by a lovely, older Scottish/Canadian woman traveling alone. We saw her drink a martini each night, all alone in a corner table. Then she would go to see the show or go to dinner. We invited her to sit with us and she took us up on it.
She was traveling alone because her husband passed away last year, and they had always traveled during the holidays. This year she decided not to sit home, but honor him by continuing on their tradition. They were childless, thus able to be away during the holidays. This struck a chord with us, and after she excused herself, Lance and I both had tears in our eyes, knowing that some day, one of us would be the one sitting at the table, having a drink alone, continuing on the tradition. We made a vow to each other to carry on too. (Who knew it would be this year’s cruise we planned upon our return in early January this past year.)
After she left, we watched as couples took to the dance-floor, mostly older people, the ones measuring each step with the knowledge they are a step closer to the last dance called life. They seem to glide across the floor, some whose body language tells you they are completely in synch, while others' bodies say the distance between them in body and soul needs a tuneup.
“Honey, let’s dance.” I say to him. I know full well he is thinking...What is she thinking?
“Come on, we can do this.” He smiles as I stand and pull his chair away from the table. All eyes are on us as I push him down the ramp to the beautiful, proper wood dance-floor. The band smiles as we take our place and the music begins...”The Lady in Red...” I stand in front of Lance in my long red gown, taking his outstretched hand and begin to sway in front of him...a mesmerizing moment where all other dancers stop and ring the floor. I take his other hand and move in closer, finally sitting on his lap, turning my face to him and placing it next to his warm cheek. We sway together to the sounds of the music, lost in each others arms, oblivious to the spectacle we create...his Devil Shoes now seem to move on their own, making the gliding noise that soothes my dancing heart. Time stands still for us. Even if time didn’t, this moment will always be frozen in my memory.
When the song ended spontaneous applause embarrassed us back into the reality of being in the spotlight. He beamed with his broad smile, as I stood and curtsied before taking my place behind him, moving us off of the center stage. As we left some women were quietly crying, many stopping us as I pushed him to our dinner saying things like, "I wish my husband would have had the courage to do this with me.” Or, “This was absolutely heart touching, thank you.” And my favorite, “You two danced beautifully together.”
I felt and still do feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have had that last dance on what turned out to be our last cruise together. You just never know.
In memory of our last dance.