Character

Several of you reached out to me after my last blog asking why my daughter was on crutches. Well, her crutches have been a life lesson for me.

For those of you who don’t know, two of my four children are dancers. Trilla and Titus. Trilla, however takes dancing to a whole new level. She truly loves it. She spends 20 to 30 hours a week at her studio. She looks forward to going to dance and she is always giddy when she gets home. As we’ve been doing college visits over the last couple of months, she’s been exploring college dance teams. She has even been emailing dance coaches in the last few weeks about submitting demo videos.

Amazingly, she turned her passion for dance into her first job. She teaches dance about 10 hours a week to dozens of kids in our Dilworth area. She’s almost like a celebrity at the grocery store. I can’t tell you how many times little girls run up to her, giggling and squealing, Miss Trilla, Miss Trilla! She is truly their hero.

She’s been able to carry that passion to school as well where she studies in the highest honors level dance class there. This last year, she danced with the Myers Park Dance Team that just won first in the state for their jazz and Pom routines, to which Trilla contributed much of the choreography.

So, needless to say, this social distancing has been difficult for her. First, her school dance outlet was eliminated. Then, her studio opted to go to online classes. She was still dancing, but on the floor in her bedroom above mine, and in front of a zoom class. A few weeks ago, she headed to go to the studio, alone, to work through some of her recital routines. As she stepped out of her very last turn at the end of the dance, she heard a loud pop and collapsed on the floor. Ironically, she caught the whole incident on film. She called us in tears and made her way back home. Watching the video alone I knew what it happened.

But, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of all orthopedic urgent cares, it took us until the next Wednesday to get an MRI of her knee. The diagnosis was devastating. She has a full tear of her ACL. Even more devastating was the news she received last Monday from the surgeon indicating she would probably not dance again for 6 to 9 months after surgery. To add insult to injury, we are in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic and ACL repair is non-essential. So no surgery date could be established.

When I say to you that my heart broke for my child, I am not exaggerating. I went to my bedroom and just wept. I think I cried more than she did.

I tried not to let her see my tears but I know it was pretty obvious. What kind of mom am I if I can’t be strong for my kids? As I rolled around in my tears, I thought about the last year and how she has had quite a few hard knocks.

In the middle of the summer last year, she decided she wanted to try out for varsity cheerleading at Myers Park. Mind you, she had never cheered before and we knew this would be a longshot. But she put endless hours into perfecting her tumbling and her techniques. Yet, when the team was posted, she had not made it.

But, she didn’t have a pity party. She didn’t even cry. She just said she knew God had something better for her.

A few months later, she was eagerly preparing for the homecoming dance. At that time, she had her first real boyfriend and she was so excited to go to the dance together. Yet, the week before the dance, she had a substitute teacher that literally muted the volume on the school announcements. She missed the deadline to turn in a piece of paper that she had in her book bag for weeks. And there was no grace. She and her date were not allowed to attend the homecoming dance. Again, there were no tears. She dressed up like a princess, went to dinner with her date, and then went to the movies while all of her friends went to the homecoming dance. She said, you know, I probably enjoyed the movies more. (Her boyfriend could’t dance!)

She then turned her anticipation to our upcoming mission trip to Haiti. I was going to have the joy of taking both of my daughters to Haiti once again. And, Trilla was thrilled about working in the clinic as well as sharing her passion for dance with the Haitian children during an after school program. But, just a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave, political unrest tore through the country and our mission organization deemed it unsafe to go. Once again, another disappointment.

She took that one in stride as well. She knew she had a fabulous trip planned for the summer climbing Kilimanjaro and working with a service organization in Tanzania. As news of the coronavirus spread across the globe, she held out hope that her trip would be safe. Yet, as the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise, impacting country after country, that organization pulled the plug on the trip as well. That once in a lifetime opportunity passed away.

Through it all, there were no tears. There was a strong resiliency and positive attitude. I must admit, I watched her in awe. When she felt down, she would simply put on music and dance her way through the house, across the floor in her bedroom, or even make her way to the studio to dance off some stress. It was during one of those stress relief dances that her knee failed her.

Then, there were tears. Tears of pain. Tears of sadness. Tears of resignation.

But, they honestly didn’t last very long. Within three days, she had found a physical therapist that specializes in dance rehabilitation. She started her pre-habilitation before she ever even saw the surgeon!

She took one night off from dance.

By the next day, she was fully engaged in the virtual classes, participating as best she can on crutches or on a chair, working on her arm techniques. She’s even teaching as well. Granted, she’s doing more sitting than standing but she is wholeheartedly investing in those precious little dancers!

On the Friday before school ended, Trilla interviewed for yet another leadership opportunity that did not end well, the Myers Park High School Dream Team. The Dream Team is a class of students in their senior year who make a pledge to be free of alcohol and drugs and to serve as a peer leaders. Initial cuts for the class involved writing essays. I had proofed her essays and I was blown away by her maturity and perspective on life. Her faith was woven through every word. She made it to the interview round. And, I was certain she would be a great candidate. I can think of no student more deserving than Trilla. She embodies everything the Dream Team stands for.

Yesterday, over a month after the interviews, she received an email stating that she had not made the Dream Team. I wanted to cry for her. I expected I would come home to a very disheartened young lady. Instead, I walked in the door and she met me literally giddy to share with me with me a Tik-Tok video that she had just made about the last year. Again, I cried. These tears, however, we’re not because I felt sorry for my child. These tears were because I saw the amazing mature young lady that God has created her to be.

See for yourself:

In that one minute video, there was no pity party. There was no self-doubt. There was no regret. Instead, I saw a young woman who had her priorities straight. She knew how to find joy in suffering and thankfulness in all circumstances. I saw in my daughter the words of the Psalms.

Psalm 30:11-12. says, You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my soul may sing praise to you and not be silent. Oh my Lord, I will give thanks to you forever.

Psalm 30:5b says, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!

I am so thankful and honored that God is growing such a beautiful woman of God under my feet. Lord, help me nourish her sweet soul. Help me to learn from my daughter how to find joy even in the difficult circumstances. Watching her walk through the season has been a gift.

And, by the way, we actually received news late yesterday afternoon that the surgery centers are opening next week. She scheduled for surgery Friday, May 1.Please keep her in your prayers!

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