The Last Time

I was an unlikely skater. When I started Ice dancing at age 49 I fell in love with it. I began out of boredom while Ross was having lessons. I needed the exercise. It looked easy to me from bleachers behind the glass….a few arabesques, a couple of fouette turns and some dégagés. It seemed like simple ballet on skates.

Soon I was teaching ballet to skaters. I had beginners luck on the ice. Ballet translated at first and I was obsessed for about a year before the reality set in that ice skating is infinitely more difficult that ballet and extremely dangerous. And yet there was someone who wanted to skate with me and coaches who wanted to work with me. So I trained with dedication. I felt alive again….like the dancer I always was.

I grew to love it more and more. I helped the Russian coaches with the little kids, competed and flew through space with tall, handsome, athletic coaches. It was like ballet on steroids. As the technique grew more and more difficult and I could feel the stress on my not young body I came to the realization that each time I set blade on the ice might be the last time.

So I made a little deal with myself: each day, as I removed my guards, gliding one foot, then the other across the ice I’d say almost a little prayer, “ I am so thankful to be able to do this wonderful sport. I will focus, enjoy and give it my all today because it might just be the last time.” Skaters around me, young and old were breaking bones, getting concussions, cuts, abrasions, strains and crushed fingers. Surely my number would come up eventually.

And, of course, it did. After about 9 years of hard training my hips started to ache, a little at first and the badly. First one hip then the other developed sharp pains. I went on Celebrex and later got cortisone shots.

One day I realized I was done. It was over. I tried, and I cried. But the truth was blaring. I remembered my deal and made my best effort to surrender with grace. I don’t regret a second that I skated. It was a thrill and a passion, two of my favorite things. It’s traced into my memory forever and etched into my heart…..another chance to dance….another glimpse of heaven.