I've said before that 2011 was one of the hardest years of my life.

And even though it was a struggle, it was also wrought with lessons, and life experience and teachable moments. You know, the bad kind? The kind that makes you go through the mud and swamps of life, all the way through the fire so that you come out on the other side refined.

The question-exactly-what-your-made-of kind of stuff?

You know what I'm talking about.

So, having been through that. ALL THAT. I was determined to have a better 2012. First of all, the Mayan calendar promises the world is going to end this year. (Right? Sarcasm..... Haha...) Anyway, living with only months to go, I want to make the most of this year!

Also, I know last year made me stronger as a person, but it also exhausted me. I'm not sure I can go through another year like that.

I had great expectations for 2012. Huge, lofty expectations that I knew were not beyond my reach, I just had to apply myself correctly.

Expectations like I could breathe easier this year. I would be able to relax every once in a while completely, with absolutely nothing to worry about. Sure, there are always things to worry about. Especially while raising children. BUT, I wanted just a few of those moments when I could sit back at the end of the day, with three beautiful children snoring softly in the other room, and the sexiest man alive sitting next to me and just close my eyes and thank God for every single one of my blessings.

What I wanted was easy.

I'm not going to get it.

2012 has made that abundantly clear.

Maybe, there is no such thing. Maybe an easy life doesn't exist no matter how thankful you are. No matter how blessed you are. Life will always be hard, full of sacrifice and full of loss.

I think that's more accurate than my list of expectations for this year. Like Zach says when he gives people marital advice, "You have expectations, you can't help it, it's who we are. But if you want happiness, completely forget about them right now. And move forward without any expectations to cloud your vision or ruin your experience." (Ok, I'm paraphrasing.)

And don't get me wrong. I do close my eyes at the end of the day and offer up a soul full of thanksgiving for every single blessing and person in my life.

Zach's birthday was yesterday. He turned the big 28. (Which means I turn the big 28 just around the corner.... Gulp....) He took the day off work, although we didn't see much of each other, I seemed to be running nonstop from morning till night. We had a super fun dinner: Frito Chili Pies and Chicken Tortilla Soup. With Ice Cream Cake for dessert. Zach opened his presents from us. None of which are intended for grown-ups. :) Just kidding, I did get him a copper beer mug. I have no idea why, other than I heard it was awesome and it was something different and unexpected.

And then I got an email.

My girls dance. They are dancers. Our life revolves around dance. Stella, who is four, is on a competition team at a very, very skilled studio. It's small, and very inexpensive and wonderful. Those descriptions are rather unheard of in the competitive dance world.

And when I say small, I mean small. There are maybe four or five teachers. And the owner of the studio, Joey, not only taught most of the competitive classes, but choreographed a ton as well. Super, super talented. The nicest guy you will ever meet. Funny. Warm. Gentle. The kids, all of them ADORED him. Young. Generous. Everything that you want in a friend and teacher of your children.

He passed away yesterday.

It shocked us all. Completely unexpected.

When I say young, I mean that he was 30. He just turned 30.

This is what life has taught me in my almost 28 years of life. That death, no matter how quickly or slowly it comes is always, always Unfathomable.

When you think about the loved ones and friends and family in your life, picturing existing without them seems impossible. It seems like an alternate universe in which you don't belong. And yet death comes to us all.

But it's never fair.

And it's never convenient.

Joey was an amazing person. Truly the kindest man.

I always say that I fell into the dance world on accident. I tell this story about my dearest friend Lindsay who called me up when Stella was 18 months and said, "I'm teaching dance again and I'm starting this Baby Ballerina class, you HAVE to put Stella in it! She will just LOVE IT!!" And it was only $35/month. Pennies, really. Plus Stella really did just LOVE it.

Well, the next year, Lindsay started talking about a competition team for the little girls. And if you know anything about competitive dance, it definitely does NOT stay $35/month..... Plus, by that time Scarlett was hooked and obsessed and was bound and determined that she would get to do what her sister did.

And the cost became overwhelming in my mind. And you know that I don't just think about the current, month to month cost.... OH. NO. I start planning... I start planning all the way into high school and how am I going to afford private school AND dance. It's nearly impossible. Trust me.

But here I am. I give credit to Lindsay most of the time because she is the most incredible dance teacher for little kids. But really, when it comes down to it, Joey is the reason I stayed. The reason I didn't immediately pull Stella out and run for the hills, clutching my money bags against my chest.

The first year I did competition, he let Scarlett dance for free, to make the cost affordable. He has worked with me on tough months that I was considering donating plasma just to cover the cost. (Ok, a bit of an exaggeration... :)) But from day one, he promised me that together, him and I would make it work. And we did.

When you can trust someone like that, trust them that they have the complete best interest of your child in mind and not your pocket book, a relationship develops. A solid relationship in which your loyalty is wholly given. And I could look at other studios and their outrageous costs and their outrageous expectations and know without a doubt that I was in the BEST studio. I didn't have to worry about all that other stuff, because I was exactly where my family needed to be. (Sorry, M.)

And once we got past the money. I saw how talented Joey was. I saw what he did to the girls and how he made them the best dancers they could be. He demanded excellence from them.

Even my little Stella.

And for him, those girls performed. Under his teaching, they became excellent.

Competition rocked my world. And not in the good way. In like the, we're on a boat, a tiny, itty bitty boat without life savers in the middle of a hurricane, in the middle of the ocean, kind of rocked my world. I didn't know up from down in those places.

But one thing was clear.

My daughter danced at the best studio.

Without a doubt.

The money stopped mattering. The future costs, the second mortgages I would be taking out, the long nights spent at the studio, the hours upon hours upon hours of practice all faded away and I saw the future excellence my girls would strive for. I saw the talent they would develop. The passion that would drive them. The college scholarships available to them. And it all stemmed from one man who would stand behind every one of the girls at the studio and push them toward those goals.

Joey was a great man.

And he will be greatly missed.

The unfairness and unexpectedness of his death will haunt us all for a long time. But what he did with his short life should be remembered and honored. He did not leave behind sad memories, but cherished moments and a studio full of talented, talented girls.

Tonight, there is a memorial service for him at the studio, where all of the dancers will come and share about him. If you think about us please pray. Please pray for these young girls who might be experiencing the death of a loved one for the very first time.

This is a tragedy. Utterly devastating for all of us. But for his mom especially, he was her only child and her whole world. And for my friend Lindsay, they were very, very close and this has shattered her world.


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1 comment:

  1. Wow, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.