I believe few if any people can begin to fathom just how joyful and grateful I am to be alive and healthy these days. As we approach the 4th of July this week, you may have noticed many posts with one common theme. That theme, of course, has to do with my new freedom to be myself and no longer hide in the dark shadows of shame and despair.
Last evening after my 12-step group I have been checking out for the past month, I headed downtown to our City Plaza to hear some music performed by the Stephanie Hatfield Band, a local group.
I was out there dancing once again in front of the bandstand where I had danced with two drag queens last Saturday on Pride Day on the Plaza. First a woman with her partner standing nearby who had recognized me from that last Saturday event gave me a compliment to that effect, but I don’t recall the specifics. I showed her a picture on my cellphone taken at the Pride event and she smiled and said “There you are!”
Shortly thereafter, a sweet lovely little girl came up to me several times to take three of my fingers in each hand and we both danced together spinning round and round like girls who didn’t care if anyone was watching. I got a bit dizzy so I asked her if we could stop awhile and she moved away only to return a few moments later.
When the little girl’s Mom scooped her up after about 20 minutes or so, I danced on as before until the last song was performed. At one point while I was dancing I started to sob and my eyes grew wet so that I had to remove my eyeglasses and hang them onto the bodice of my top. These were not tears of sadness, these were tears of great joy and gratitude. What I had realized is that I had been imprisoned for over 62 years in a body that I didn’t believe was mine and here I was now dancing in front of the crowd like there was no tomorrow.
Here I was on my first day of medical coverage under Medicare as I will turn sixty-five years old next Monday. At the same time, I was a Senior Citizen and a woman who could dance with abandon, like the little girl I never got to be.
Only three years ago, I had my bi-lateral hip joint replacements and later that year finally emerged from my lifetime in a prison while committing no crime except to be born with a heart and mind that didn’t jive with my body. For the months following my beloved wife’s diagnosis that would lead to her own transition into the Great Mystery and rapidly losing my mobility and independence with it, not to mention her asking me to leave our home we shared with our son for over 20 years, I had literally come to believe that my life, as I had known it, was over. If anyone had told me back then where I would be today, I probably would have asked what they were smoking and if I could have some.
Then came to mind the concluding words of which the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in his famous “I have a dream “speech delivered August 28, 1963, before the throng at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
“Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”
Deanna Joy Hallmark