A couple of weeks ago I had a golden day at a dance competition. And when I say golden, it’s probably not quite what you think. It had absolutely nothing to do with the trophies and medals that came home with us. In fact, I can’t even remember if any did come home with us that day.
What I do remember is a golden moment that will stick with me for a long time, an incredible example of how to share our triumphs with those we love and care for.
I was stepping outside the hotel ballroom where the Irish dance competition stages were in full swing, taking a small break from the blaring music and hundreds of pounding hard shoes. I struck up a very brief conversation with another mom who was doing the exact same thing. We exchanged comments about the healing benefits of Excedrin and sunshine, as I recall, and then we parted ways and headed back to our seats in the competition room.
My girls were not on stage, so I was entertaining myself by watching other dancers and spectators. Need I say more? While happily people watching, I spotted the woman I had moments ago been talking with. She was standing on her tip toes, craning her neck to and fro, peering over a sea of people to watch her daughter dance on the stage at the front of the ballroom. All the while, her hands were resting on the thick handles of a large buggy-style wheelchair that held another daughter who was severely handicapped.
I looked from the woman and the wheelchair to the stage, and spotted the dancer the woman was earnestly trying to watch. I knew immediately the dancer was her daughter because she looked just like her; and as she danced, her gaze repeatedly came back to her mother and her sister. The strength and comfort the dancer drew from the pair in the audience was palpable. As she danced, kicking and clicking and twirling so precisely, I watched, mesmerized by both her graceful strength and the connection she had with her mom and sister. She danced beautifully and I was sure she would place high in the competition. It was her dance. It was her moment.
Once the dance was completed the dancers, all dressed in their finery of beautiful fabrics and sparkles, made their way to the back of the room. The dancer I had been following traversed the crowd while removing pins that secured a golden tiara to the top of her curly head. By the time she came to her mom, the sparkling headpiece was in her hands. She kissed her mom and graciously accepted her words of praise for the competition well danced.
And then, as second nature, as if she had done it a thousand times before, she gently stroked the cheek of her sleeping sister in the wheelchair and placed the golden crown on her head. Her sister awoke and smiled and held her hand for a few long seconds before succumbing to her sleepy state again. The dancer adjusted the headpiece gently, as if happy it was back in its rightful place.
That gesture by the dancer to her sister was one of the most touching displays of affection I think I have ever seen. It was so tender and gentle and unassuming. Caring for her sister was clearly second nature, as was her intent on sharing the beauty of her sport and the exhilaration of her competition.
While she danced and competed by herself that afternoon, a culminating event of her own hard work and determination, her moment was made better by sharing it. Watching her place the tiara on her sister’s head reminded me that the sharing of the gold, be it an actual golden headpiece or the things we do in honor of, or in spirit for others, are often what those golden moments are really all about.