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.