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One More Waltz

There are times in a person’s life when everything is tinted gray and the future looks too bleak to bother. Then in one single shift of the universe, something happens—we turn left, instead of right; we answer the phone, smile at a stranger, or meet an old lover. Something moves. And the light reappears.

Mostly, these times add color and drama to our lives. The effect is transitory and life goes on. But if the stars have joined in perfect alignment and the moment strikes that chord buried beneath layers of protections and angers and all the other psychic sediments we’ve accumulated over a lifetime, we understand that we’ve been moving toward these points on the space-time continum all our lives. Something opens, and for one sacred moment we are seen. We are whole. And all that has gone before and all that goes after takes on new meaning.

Although these moments might be triggered by something someone says or does . . . something as simple as a comment or as deep as a touch, the numinous moments—the rare ones when the universe shifts—come from an opening inside when we’re touched in just the right way. And out of that touching, new life begins.

We all experience unforgettable moments. Whether life tosses us turds or flowers, events occur in all our lives that add breadth to our understanding and depth to our soul . . . events that etch themselves permanently into our psyche. Eventually, these accumulated moments add up to a lifetime.

When I last checked in with reality, I assumed those moments—the ones when fireworks go off and thrills trigger new life—were gone forever.

And yet in the secret corner of my dreams, my mantra was, “Once more before I die. One more grand passion, one more glory moment, before I die.”

I didn’t ask for its form. I didn’t name specifics. Getting there was the hard part. Because between youth and age, life happened.

With Cinderella as my guide, I bought the fairy tale . . . swallowed that sucker faster than a robin jumps on a junebug. Someday my prince will come, and all that crap. In fact, my prince did come, cantered into my life atop his white charger. How was I to know he just rented the steed for special occasions . . . and that all the in-between times would be filled with challenges so daunting that simple survival felt like its own kind of miracle?

The truth is, love comes in many guises, from parents and siblings, from children and grandchildren—and from friends who stand by our sides through our darkest moments and celebrate with us in our most memorable ones.

But that glory moment—the one with the fireworks and bliss? It took me a lifetime to understand that love is a jester, and that perfection—when it occurs—arrives in small and fleeting packages.

By now, the effects of drinking the Kool-aid have mercifully faded. I know that life is a crazy quilt of moments that sometimes illuminate and sometimes break my heart into burnt and blackened pieces. I also know that in the dark, we are all young and beautiful.