Sunday, November 12, 2006

celebrating life

Four years ago, our friends Tom and Sal lost their youngest child, Lily, age 2, to a bad vaccine reaction. I can't imaging the heartache of losing a child; it is the fear that haunts all parents.

Lily died just a few weeks before we moved here. Tom and Sal didn't want a traditional church funeral; that just didn't seem right to them and I tend to feel the same way about funerals. They say funerals are for the living, but they are so formal and somber and dismal. When I die, I want someone to throw a party, celebrate whatever I have done in this world, celebrate the gift of life we all have. So Tom and Sal threw a party. They hired Fred, who had also just recently moved to the area and who was recently laid off from the corporate world, to play songs from "O Brother Where Art Thou", which Lily loved. They danced. I hear they had a great time; I wish I had known Tom and Sal then. It took over two years and an Internet bluegrass forum for us to cross paths.

Every year since then, Tom and Sal have held a "barn dance". This year it was also dedicated to Tom's father, who had lived with them and died in September. His last words were "I feel happy!" While it is not held in a barn anymore, there is still a dance with a professional caller, and old time musicians. This is the second year we have attended; I brought my mandolin and joined in for the last dance set, after the potluck dinner.

I think we all need to dance more and worry less. I think we need to celebrate life instead of going through somber rituals and worrying about what people think. Laughter, dancing, music...this is what it's all about.


the dharma bum said...

"dance more and worry less."


a true post in so many ways. not even being a parent, i can't imagine what it would be like to lose a child, but i would hope i could reach above the pain to do what's right, and it seems like Tom and Sal are doing just that. what a wonderful thing for a neighbor to do, dance with them when they most need it.

Floridacracker said...

Well put, and easy to forget in the fast paced hubub.

PJ said...


Deb said...

dharma bum- they are truly wonderful people; way too artistic and intelligent for this area, but then again they raise organic chickens and pigs for sale. And this barn dance is a wonderful thing.

FC- I forget it too often myself.

pj- Hey girl, I was just thinking about you the other day, realizing I hadn't seen you around in a while! Problem was, I could not remember what you called yourself; my middle age brain acting up again, I just knew you were from SD. Good to hear from you!

gtr said...

Whooohooo! So true!

I saw this on an Ames Iowa Barn Dance Association (or something like that) T-shirt:

Life is a Circle, life is a wheel
The more you dance, the better you feel!

I definitely suggest barn dances for all rites of passage: we had one at our wedding, very nice.

Anonymous said...

Well now, you're giving me an idea of what to do with that old auction mart on our property, Deb!

robin andrea said...

Dancing and celebrating must be the best way to acknowledge life cycles. I can't imagine losing a child, but what a lovely way to honor her passing.

Deb said...

gtr- if you have an anniversary barn dance, I'll be there!

madcap- Alberta's not too far to travel for a good barn dance...

robin andrea- It's just too bad so many people are self conscious about joining in in the dancing these days! Tom and Sal seemed to be the most joyful dancers of all.