It was the evening of July 31, 2017….just approximately 24 hours before Michelle would be taken from this earth. She zipped into my room after getting home from Dance Team practice at Dance Express. “Mom!!! I’ve got 5 things to tell you.” As she bounced onto the bed with me. “First, you are definitely going to need to bring your tissues to next year’s recital because Ms. Sonja picked Beyonce’s Ave Maria for our ballet!!” Michelle, of course, knew of my devotion to Mary. It is no secret in this house. I probably recited the Memorae a bazillion times throughout the course of my cancer treatment. So she was over the moon to tell me this! Fast forward 7 1/2 months…..
Last night, Michelle’s dance team had their competition to perform this ballet number. Michelle didn’t get to be there to physically dance. But nothing could have kept Keith and I from being there (Even Xavier being announced as a #1 seed!) to watch the hard work efforts of all of her dance friends as they performed it….for her. There was no point in trying to hold back my emotions. The tears were freely falling and I didn’t care. I watched the flawless performance, soaking in every single girl and every single graceful movement across the stage. Keith was standing in the back, somehow videoing it through his own tears. You see, Michelle has danced at Dance Express since she was 3 years old. Starting with Tara, and ending with Sonja and Elizabeth. So they, the kids, and the parents are like family to us.
After the dancers went off stage, I gathered myself, went to the back to find Sonja, Elizabeth, and Keith and get some much-needed hugs. Sonja said the kids wanted to see us and she would go get them. Of course I wanted to see them, too. I couldn’t wait to see them and hug them! After talking with some of the parents, I turned around, and there were the dancers….. crying, looking so beautiful…. in their ivory dresses and floral halos. Each waiting for me and Keith with white roses. Not a dry eye as Keith and I made our way in to where they were and we could finally give each and every one of them a hug. I so badly felt like I just wanted to gather them all up in a circle and somehow wrap my entire being around all of them at once. Michelle’s friends. A connection to her. It was so, so so emotional and yet so very uplifting at the same time. These girls and teachers put their heart and soul into getting this dance perfect for Michelle. It was evident with their earning of a Superior Rating and the Judges Award. My heart is so happy for them. Keith and I are so grateful for everything that Sonja does to honor our sweet, sweet girl. She goes above and beyond every single time. We will be following this team of dancers through 2021, and perhaps beyond. We love them. So Ms. Sonja, Ms. Elizabeth, Jenna, Mads, Ellie, Audrey, Campbell, Madison, Addy, Brookie Cookie, Maddy, Nora (or is it Ada?Michelle always kept me straight on the twins!), Thia, and all their parents…. thank you for helping our family keep our promise that we would never let anyone forget Michelle Chalk and we would do whatever we could to keep her light shining. You guys did just that! And we are forever grateful.
Are you wondering what the 5 things were she had to tell me? I remember one was “Mom! Ms. Elizabeth said that one of our recital dances will be Pointe! Since this is our first year of Pointe, I didn’t think we would get to do it for recital but we do!!”
And I sure wish I remembered the other 3, but they’ve escaped me. I’m not giving up hope though that eventually it’ll come back to me. Maybe in my dreams of her.
Edit: 3/24/18-I remembered one. “Mom, we get to dance a solo this year if we want!!”
Edit: 4/16/18-I remembered. Sonja was remodeling the studio and had several framed prints she no longer wanted to use. She offered several of them up to her students. Michelle was soooo excited to get to choose one! She chose a simple framed portrait of a child’s ballet feet.