Feb 072011

Tucson, Arizona

Old salsa music is blasting in the background. Tiny hands are tangled up in mine. Tonight there are no nightclubs or bars for me. On this Saturday night I belong to my 4-year old niece. She has chosen to interrupt my dishwashing and invite me to dance in the living room. How could I refuse?

As we twirl around dancing, her blue eyes light up and laughter fills the room. The warmth of her palms stretches from my hands to my heart. This is happiness.
The classic salsa songs remind me of my childhood. I picture myself as a 6-year old dancing in my parents’ living room singing at the top of my lungs. I could chose to feel sad everytime I remember my mother but right now I am focusing on those beautiful memories. I feel so fortunate I am able to dance these songs with my niece.
My sweet blue-eyed angel snaps me back to reality.
“Auntie Rose, lift me,” she says through her giggles. 
Those words are enough to inspire my best Dirty Dancing imitation. She runs to me and I lift my princess up in the air as we spin round and round. I love being silly Auntie Rose J
Salsa gives way to country music and we two-step. Before I notice, my brother and his 2-year old son join us. We all hold hands and dance, our legs moving in funny directions.
My beautiful and very pregnant sister-in-law finally joins us and we dance together as a family in the midst of crayons and toys. I savor every moment because I know I will be leaving for Italy in a few short weeks and I will miss my family dearly.
Then Trace Atkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This” comes on. This is an emotional song about growing up fast then wishing we could turn back time. 

As the song plays, my brother tightly embraces his daughter as they slow dance. My sister-in-law and I are sitting on the couch. She’s holding her baby boy to her chest and kissing his head lightly. My hands slowly find their way to her arms and we hold each other.
Every one of us adults is softly weeping as we meditate upon life: the kids grow up so quickly, I’m leaving for a year, and we will never get back the time that has passed.
As I caress my sister-in-law’s belly, the tiny baby inside her kicks. We smile at each other as we feel the slight flutter of her legs.
This is family life and it fills my heart with the deepest of joys. Amen!

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