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Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers

Not many people experience the death of a child; fewer yet face the possibility of having to do it twice. Justin DeLong was a bright, energetic child when he was diagnosed with leukemia at age five. After battling the cancer, he went into remission for ten years, where he laughed and ran long-distance races and slowly entered adolescence. Sadly, in July 2000 he succumbed to the disease twelve days after his fifteenth birthday. Lisa DeLong and her family were left to pick up the pieces and try to find joy in life without their beloved eldest son and brother. Then,...

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Whoa Pony

Whoa Pony

Living with devastating loss is like dancing on a trap door. One moment I feel light hearted and weightless and the next, like I’m falling fast onto the shards below. Since my son’s death fifteen years ago, I’ve discovered that when I dance more I fall less. Dancing allows me to see myself in a new light and release the expression of my true self. It is this expression that leads to joy and joy is a lovely place to live. This is why I am attracted to partner dancing so much.  My dance with grief, much like ballroom dancing,...

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Pass The A1 Sauce Please

Pass The A1 Sauce Please

Life, like dance, requires communion.  Connecting with others after Justin died was a painful necessity. I needed to give words to my experience but stepping into the grief world was a stretch and one I’m glad I took. I was not used to emoting in front of others but when I did I found compassion. It was in grief groups that I softened up. I found my people and in doing so I found myself. The first time my dance teacher, Raul, said “We need to tenderize you,” because my movements were rigid and harsh I honestly pictured my father-in-law...

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My Whirling Dervish

My Whirling Dervish

Tenderizing is much more challenging than I’d expected. It involves small concentrated movements, which my body does not recognize. Why should it? It has never moved this way before. During lessons, I tell my body to:  isolate your torso while engaging the trapezius muscles, twist your hips in the Latin, “and one”, and align your neck with your spine so you don’t look like a chicken. While you’re at it, maintain a soft but firm hold and engage Raul’s hand with precision pressure and don’t forget to keep your arms soft because after all, you’re a girl. Sometimes, with all...

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Vroom! Vroom!

Vroom! Vroom!

The micro manager of movement, aka Raul, is at it again. “Move your ass,” he says as I do a basic three count Hustle step which goes like this: And one, with Latin hips, right leg moves back, left leg bears my weight, right heal up; two, pivot; three, right foot forward in alignment with my back foot as if I’m on a balance beam. All of this happens in a matter of seconds while planting my foot in anticipation for the next move, I think, I did it perfectly this time, when I hear, “You’re like a Ferrari without...

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