Caught Off Guard

I smile widely, uncontrollably, as I watch, ignoring the wind swirling dust all around me, blowing my hair into knots. I stand on a short wall to avoid the cigar smoker who stepped in front of me moments before. A better view is an added bonus.  I watch as weeks’ worth of practice come together, choreographed steps and shouts meld as they dance their way into hearts, engaging and entertaining the audience. Some of us knew to be here at the appointed time, others just happen to be strolling the outdoor mall and have found an unexpected treat, a flash mob of costumed dancers.

I try to take in the whole scene, the group of familiar faces and bodies, the ease with which they’ve learned to work together, to trust each other through a performance. But my eyes are drawn back time and again to her, to my daughter, to her fluid and sure movements, and the obvious joy of the dance in her. Suddenly, probably rather predictably, tears spring to my eyes. My lips quiver and my smile is gone. The familiar feeling returns, the one that sends my stomach roiling and my mind reeling. This sensation was so familiar to me during her final two years of high school. It was also likely the main reason I usually sat alone watching her onstage in a dance, choir, or theater performance. Really, who wants to sit near a lone, blubbering mom anyway?

But the words would always run through my head and my heart, and I could not stop them, or perhaps I simply did not want to. In fact, I wanted to jump up on my chair and shout them to everyone in the crowd. I never did because of, among other things, fear of a forced exit accompanied by stern security personnel. Despite the familiarity of the sentiment, I always felt caught off guard. I still do. I hope I always will.

“Look at her, people! LOOK AT HER! She is ALIVE! She didn’t want to be for a while there. And she tried, as much as she dared, to not be. But look at her. She has worked so hard. WE have worked so hard. Do you see that beauty in her? The talent and passion? The determination? The courage? To you she is just another girl up there, another performer, a face in a crowd, maybe indistinguishable from those who surround her. But know this: that young woman ~ my daughter ~ is a triumph, a warrior, a courageous soul who has fought darker demons than most of you have ever seen or dared to imagine. And she’s ALIVE, people. She almost died. But she didn’t. She’s here. And she’s alive.”


© Monica Simpson and Help To Hope, 2013


10 thoughts on “Caught Off Guard

  1. Pingback: Responding to Your Teen’s Self Harm | Help To Hope

    • Thanks ~ I don’t know that I will ever NOT cry about it. I think that’s a good thing. I cry not only because of the triumph of it all, but also because I know what our whole family endured, how hard we worked, the emotional scars we still bear. I am so proud of my kids. I have great hope for them all. Thanks for sharing in my tears, Amber.

      • I am reading the articles now, one to go, the Denver post article was actually very well done. Some are shallow or quick.. many have useless tips. I liked this one.

        You have every right to be proud of them. I bet they are very proud of you as well. 🙂

  2. Your are an excellent writer! I feel like I am living in the moment reading what you write. The pain, fear, frustration and struggle are so real. Thank you for sharing your story. Praise God for the healing that has happened in your daughter’s heart, mind and soul. Praise God for your love for Him being displayed as a patient, kind, loving, supportive mom through all of this. Love you!

  3. My grief was different than yours as I lost a much loved spouse. But I prayed and thanked God for your happiness at your daughter’s healing. So wonderful! Reba

    • Thank you, Reba. I’m sorry for the loss of your beloved husband. My husband passed away about a year and a half before my daughter’s struggles began to peak. You are right, they are very different kinds of grief. Learning to live within any life-changing loss is profound.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting and praying,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s