At the end of last year my daughter competed in her last dance competition. It was so sad – the end of such an important part of her life for so many years – ferrying her to dance classes three times a week, going to all the competitions and watching her and her team compete. Winning the first two competitions they entered and feeling so proud and pleased – especially as it was so unexpected.
Congratulating her on their performance even when they came last; telling her before each competition that the most important thing is that she does her best and that she has fun; loving the buzz of the day and waiting on tenterhooks as they announced the winners.
It’s hard to let go – to say goodbye to something so significant – wishing she still loved it as much as she once did. Yet let go I must – it’s her life, not mine. And I’m so proud of her – not only for all she accomplished during her years at dance, or for how much she’s improved but because she honoured her heart. She chose – and keeps choosing – to walk her own path in life – she didn’t feel obligated to continue because her mum wants her to, or because her teacher wants her to stay, or because her team mates are sad that she’s leaving. Whilst everyone around her wanted something different, she chose her own heart.
And as I type I recognise how important it is to honour my own heart – my own sadness at this ending. I can see that it’s so much more than my daughter leaving dance – it truly is the end of an era. She turns 13 in May – growing up, becoming a young woman. She’s not my baby girl any more.
Maybe we often feel nostalgic for times past because we find it difficult to let go – unable or unwilling to go through the grieving process that happens before moving on to pastures new. I’m surprised at how sad I feel writing this. I wanted to write this to mark the end of this period in our family’s life – but I realise that it’s bringing up so much more for me to look at – namely my own challenge with endings.
Last summer I attended a 4 day transformational workshop, and we had a beautiful closing ceremony by candlelight, followed by dancing. I loved it – and I felt the significance of the workshop through the closing ceremony. I wanted to incorporate my own flavour of a closing ceremony in the retreats and events I ran.
But I didn’t see it as an essential part of everyday life.
However writing this post I can feel how important it is to honour my daughter’s years of dance.
I’ve always glossed over endings before – maybe to avoid these feelings, maybe because if I don’t mark the end of something I can kid myself that it’s still continuing. Or maybe because honouring an end makes it feel so final.
Yet in truth when we honour the end of something, we simply mark the end of this phase, or this stage in our life journey. My writing this post does not close the door forever on my daughter dancing – she would be welcomed back with open arms if she chose to return. But it would be a different era, a different journey for her – not more of the same – even though it might look that way on the surface.
Through writing this post I have not only come to see the significance of endings, but that marking and honouring them are vital stages in a whole and fulfilling life.
I remember when I moved my office a few years ago, I cleared out my filing cabinet and went through all my client records – in doing so I connected with each and every client I’d worked with – remembering my time with them, giving me closure and enabling me to let go.
Now as I think about my attempts at decluttering I realise I have not brought this sense of closure and reverence to items I no longer love or need – instead I keep them “in case I need them in the future”. But maybe it’s deeper – maybe I don’t want to let go – in the same way I didn’t want my daughter to stop dancing.
I will explore this in the coming days and months, for today I want to honour and acknowledge my daughter and her years of dancing and to let go with love.