The Dance.


Papa was an incredible dancer. Girls wanted to dance with him for that reason alone. It had nothing to do with how attractive he was or if they had a crush on him. Even his cousins would follow him to the dance halls, hoping to be twirled around the floor by Gus.

When I went to see him, after hospice called me, dancing is one of the things we talked about. During his surge, when suddenly he was himself, able to recall in perfect detail things from long ago, he talked to me about the dance halls and how he loved to dance.

On the other side of the bed, my mom told me that any time there was a wedding, she would be so excited. Later, she would major in dance at college, but as a little girl, the thrill of dancing with her father at a wedding filled her with joy. While we talked she said, “Anytime there was a wedding, I was always like, oooh!” She waggled her fingers in the air. “I get to dance with Dad.”

I think you know you are grieving when even recounting happy moments like this make me want to cry.papainhat

But back to the dancing.

Papa always said that when he did die (morbid, I know) we had to play his favorite song–Glen Miller, In the Mood. If Papa didn’t get up and dance out of the casket, we were allowed to bury him.

After the church service and the service at the cemetery, after the military thanked him for his service, saluted him with 21 shots, folded the flag and presented it to my grandma, after people meandered off to their cars, I stood with my brother, my three cousins, Granny, Mom, and my Aunt. It was just us–the ones left. That alone hurt–the absence of him in out space.

My brother (who hates to be talked about on the blog but I cannot tell this story without him) is one of the toughest men I know. He is not one for affection or touching moments, to say the least. But he took out his phone and he played In the Mood.

It’s a happy song. It’s a song that makes you want to dance.

I think that is why it was Papa’s favorite.

It is also a long song. Or it felt long because we wanted it be long. It went on and on. All of standing there, apart but together, watching the casket as the cheerful melody went on. Papa did not get up and dance. We did not expect him to. But we let the song play out until the very end, all three minutes and thirty two seconds of it, our eyes on the box that held the body of the man we loved.

When the song ended, we all got into a huge SUV that fit all eight of us. We had no room for even one more person. We could let them bury him now.

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16 thoughts on “The Dance.

  1. Biana Perez

    This post brought me to tears!! He was such a handsome man and even though the good memories are bringing tears to your eyes, you’ll always have those stories to take you through you hard times. My grandfather died 18 years ago when I was 9…I remember every detail about him and I know that when I talk to him, he hears me….your grandfather is a guardian angel for you!! 🙂

  2. Nicole

    thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I started to tear up when I read the line “If Papa didn’t get up and dance out of the casket, we were allowed to bury him.” and then I listened to the song and really started to cry. He’ll always be with you, even after I lost my grandfather, which was over 15 years ago, I always felt like he was still with me, and still is in little ways here and there.

  3. Julia

    Beautiful memories! It does hurt to remember even the good times when the pain of loss is still so fresh, I guess the best way to describe it is bittersweet. But it’s wonderful to have such sweet memories!

  4. Sarah @ 12 Twenty Seven

    Such a sweet way to remember your Papa. That song will be your way of remembering him for as long as you live. Praying that your tender heart heals and that your family continues to remember the good times your Papa provided.

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  6. Haleigh

    I recently came across your blog and quickly started reading all your posts. my heart absolutely aches for you. I wish I could say I know exactly how you feel, but I don’t- truth be told, no one does. when you lose someone so special to you, not one single person felt the same relationship you shared with that person. but I admire your family’s boldness for holding true to what your Papa wanted and playing the song. my Pepa went to be with Jesus a few years ago and I still find myself getting choked up at little memories and only wish I would’ve had something positive to remember from the day we buried him. often times I am blown away at the legacy these men tend to leave behind! praying Jesus provides peace and comfort over you and your family always. xo.

    1. Nina Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s still hard so I appreciate it! I am so glad that you found me and hope to hear from you more! xo

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