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Message from Zumba

For some strange reason, I dreamt about my Zumba class, which I've started taking recently. In the dream, I was preoccupied with other things but soon found myself following the instructor, who was trying out new moves.

When I awoke this morning, Kung Fu Panda was crying inconsolably. He didn't have a wet diaper, as I might have expected. Maybe he just had a bad dream. Is it possible that he, too, is mourning my doggie, Una?

Even on such a bright day, the last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere, since I'm still reeling from Una's death, but I'd missed the previous week's Zumba class and figured I ought to go.

The front desk clerk at the YMCA made the mistake of asking me how I was, noting that she hadn't seen me there in a little while. I told her about Una's sudden illness and passing, and she was sympathetic. It's hard not to just blurt it out to everyone I meet, and that's not really what most people want to hear when they utter a casual, "How are you?" I managed not to unburden myself on the staffers running the childcare service when I left KFP. He deserved to be around cheerful people, I thought, as I headed upstairs for my class.

I felt as if I was in a different world from the women greeting each other with cheery smiles: as if I was standing still and they were whirling around me, blurring. While they chatted about their weekends and tied on jingling hip scarves, I caught myself in the mirror, arms crossed and grim-faced.

Immediately, I remembered something that Yoko Ono said to CNN's Anderson Cooper in a recent interview. She said that, in the days after John Lennon's murder, she looked in the mirror every day and saw how miserable her face was. After that, she made a point of trying to smile to herself in the morning. At first, she said, it was a forced smile, but eventually, it was real.

The instructor, who had only ever worn shirts that said "Zumba," today was wearing a different shirt. "Get fit. Get happy," it urged me. I thought wryly to myself that it would take a long time to achieve either.

For the first part of the class, during songs I recognized, I was lost in thought. The merrily tinkling hip scarves reminded me how fascinated Una had been when I practiced my belly dancing moves in front of her. She had been the first audience for the solo performance I would perform later for a crowd.

Thinking of that almost brought me to tears, and I fought them back. I doubt anyone noticed anything more than a passing discomfort, easily attributable to the exercise.

Despite going through the motions, I didn't feel much like dancing. Weighed down by nearly 40 pounds of postpartum "baby" weight and by my grief, I felt lead-footed. Then, near the end of the class, the instructor played a new song. I had to pay attention to keep up. For just a little while, the burden was lifted; the music carried me.

Go through the motions until you really feel better.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
Shadow died on the 15th of September. Due to the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings on the 11th, nobody blinked or even looked twice when I walked around bursting into tears at random odd moments for the next month, as many of them were doing the same thing. Not for the same reason I was, but it was quite socially acceptable to bawl my eyes out in public then...
Oct. 25th, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
That must have been incredibly difficult, to lose a family member right after such a tragedy. I remember what it was like back then. A lot of people were walking around like zombies for quite a while.
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)
And Shadow was my middle child. She was 18 1/2 when she died. To be honest, the rest of the 9/11 stuff was not as important to me as my puppydog...
Oct. 26th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
Awww. How heartbreaking. You were lucky to get so much time with her. Was she a smaller dog? I'm told they tend to live longer.
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Shadow was a cocker spaniel/poodle mix. She survived cancer and two strokes before she died. When she had her cancer surgery, the cute guy asked the vet, "how long can we expect her lifespan to be?"
The vet said, "oh, that ran out about five years ago."
According to the "chart" at the vet's office, her "expected lifespan" was maxed out at about 12 years.
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
She sounds like a tough little girl. What a fighter, to keep going for so long. Seems like a sign you were doing something right.
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
She was well-loved, as was Una. They might have four feet instead of two, but they are still our kids.
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
It's true. And while people who don't have dogs would find it funny that I say this, I learned a lot about being a parent from having Una.
Oct. 26th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I think you are correct. On the other hand, when Cocoa was a puppy, I was spoiled by the idea that six-week-old human babies STAY where you put them.
She taught/reminded me quickly that puppies do NOT stay put.
Oct. 26th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
My experience was the opposite, since I had my puppy before my baby. I was struck by just how needy babies were, by comparison. Puppies can find their own food, move around when they want to, and don't seem to have any trouble getting their digestive systems on line. Very different!
Oct. 26th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Puppies have far fewer potty issues than small humans.
Oct. 26th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
Definitely! And I imagine that toilet training will be more complicated than taking him outside, setting him on the grass, and intoning, "Go pee-pee!"
Oct. 26th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
That might actually work.
Oct. 26th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, but it's not exactly socially acceptable.
Oct. 26th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
I doubt if he would be the first little boy to do that..
Oct. 26th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Probably not! Newspaper training seems equally inappropriate.
Oct. 25th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Glad you went to your class. It is hard to get out or do what are normal things after we lose someone or a beloved animal. But it sure does us good in the long run.
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
It is hard, but it was probably better than moping around the house.
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
I am glad you are at least trying to find some balance again. *hugs*
Oct. 26th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)
Thanks. I'm trying to make an effort to find some positivity, because I don't want to fall into bad habits, such as overeating. For so long, that's how I dealt with every bad thing that happened to me, and ultimately, that only makes me feel worse.
Oct. 26th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
*hugs* It's so hard to lose a pet we love. I hope you're starting to find a new stride.
Oct. 26th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
I think that will take a while. I'm trying.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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