Dancing into Heaven

In honor of my mom, Sue Strother.

One of mom’s favorite Psalms and Christian songs started with “You have turned my mourning into dancing, Lord.”

She sang that song every morning when dad was sick, and she danced in the kitchen to keep herself going.

Mom’s sheer capacity to maintain a state of joy no matter what she was facing always amazed me. I do not remember a time when I called her on the phone that she didn’t answer with a smile.

She really was daisies and lady bugs, even when she threw a piece of corn at dad when he pissed her off.

Her faith was bright and simple – it was not something to be questioned. She could be very real while voicing concern that she wasn’t being a good enough Christian. Like when she called a man in a store, two weeks before she died, a shit. I loved that about her.

And she literally danced. She jitterbugged with us and cleaned the house with music blaring. She clogged at weddings. Music was her soul language. She loved it all. Except for Beulah Land and the Tran Siberian Orchestra concert we took her too. She hated that.

Mom could turn any mourning into dancing, right up until the end. When I asked her in healthcare if she was done trying, she said very clearly, “I am.” When I asked if she was mad, she shook her head and looked like herself for a moment and said, “No” as if it were the weirdest question in the world.

And when I left her room, the last time I saw her, I told her I loved her and she said “bye, bye.” Communication was extremely difficult for her that last week, and, somehow, I knew this might be our last interaction. So, I asked, “And you love me, right?” And she nodded and said, “I love you.” As I turned at the door, she loudly said, “Goodbye.” She was done.

She had no patience for a life without dancing.

So, she left, quickly. And the night of her death, about 45 minutes after my sister called, my eyes were closed though I couldn’t sleep, and I saw a light that pulsed like a heartbeat and quickly got so white that I wondered if I was going to have retinas when I opened them. Then I realized.

Her light left the world, and it had a rhythmic beat. I bet she was dancing.