Cancer dance

May 01

Maren came home from Phenom’s house after her first day there talking nonstop about The Girls: The Girls’ toys, The Girls’ bedroom, The Girls’ general awesomeness.  You see, Phenom has elementary-aged girls who dote on and indulge Maren’s whims in a way that I can only hope Maren will indulge Greta one day.  Maren is often a same-age peer or the oldest among her little friends; it is rare for her to spend time with older kids.  Phenom’s sweet older girls have welcomed Maren into their play and Maren is enamored.

Last Thursday, I heard that Maren and Phenom’s Dancer were dancing together in the basement.  By Friday, Maren had near meltdown that Daddy wasn’t able to see their dance when he came to pick her up.  On Monday, she turned down ice cream with Mommy so that she could do more dancing with Dancer in Phenom’s basement.  It was also decided that the two girls would perform The Show on Tuesday for Phenom and myself.

So today, at 7:30am, Maren chose her twirliest dress, in anticipation of The Show this afternoon.  She talked nonstop about The Show.  She wanted me to write down “like on a list, Mom” that the show was going to be today, in the basement, at pick-up time.  She made me promise I wouldn’t forget, or be hurried, or be late.  She brimmed with enthusiasm.  She could talk of nothing else.  She reviewed with me, multiple times, where the show would be and that I would be in the audience.

When I arrived for The Show, we all went down to their unfinished basement where I was shown to the reserved seating (a chair.)  The small but enthusiastic audience assembled, the dancers took their places, and they started the music.  Dancer and Maren performed a lovely, coordinated routine.  They moved in unison, kept an eye on each other, and danced with the music.  Dancer told us that all of the moves were choreographed by Maren, but I’m pretty sure that the ones that looked graceful were actually Dancer’s idea.  Regardless, it was pretty amazing to see my little girl, looking up to this “big” girl, and stretching her horizons so much in a few days.  When Maren dances at home, it is free-spirited and random and, well, energetic.  There are no coordinated movements or planned steps at all.  The performance this afternoon made me feel like she had physically aged, in a good way.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I think Dancer has taught her more about dance and the love of dance than the class we’ve been paying $45/month for over the past year.

The sweetness of this stayed with me throughout the night.  The time that Maren is spending at Phenom’s house is so much more than I could have hoped for.  Maren is smitten with the entire family, and wants to go there every day.  They are giving her experiences and moments that I can not give her.  And, Maren is there because I have cancer: Phenom is helping us navigate cancer as a young family.  We are so blessed.  I savor the sweet moments, the ones like The Show, because my cancer story is not an ugly story.  It’s hopeful, courageous, a little clumsy, but mostly just melt-your-heart-beautiful.  Just like that dance.


  1. I LOVE THIS JEN! The beauty that surrounds you, is also pouring out of you. Thank you for sharing this sweet story. Love you.

  2. I don’t know you personally, but from everything I have read here on your blog, this is Just Like You — to find beauty and joy everywhere you look.
    I’m so glad your girls have a safe and happy place to spend their time when you are busy kicking cancer in the butt!

  3. Kelly /

    Tonight my girls and I are dancing too, unbeknownst to them we are dancing for you! Isn’t that great? Despire cancer, truthfully more like “to spite cancer” you are inspiring friends, family, and strangers to live better lives! Wow! I love it!

  4. Jodi /

    Such a lovely post!

  5. Maureen /

    Can I just say that you ARE blessed to have Phenom (love that BTW) in your life, and vice versa. I also love that you are looking for the blessings. In my darkest hours, writing down the things I was thankful for every day really helped keep me from staying there!

  6. Sue Nitz /

    I sitting here smiling, reminiscing of times gone by with my daughters. Oh to be a child. God is watching you just like you did Maren and Dancer, as you dance through this phase in your life and He is applauding your strength, grace, and endurance. I am do proud of you Jen! Oh, my daughter is running the half pig on Saturday. She has never done anything like it before and she is doing it for you and for me. She will be praying for us during her run! I am proud of her too! Love ya!

  7. Beautiful post! And you have clearly found a lifelong friend in Phenom & she in you.

  8. Bonniebj /

    What a sweet remembrance; our lives should reflect the “dance” everyday despite the GOLIATHS in our lives. Praying for you Jen as you chronicle this season of your life – we’re all encouraged this day.

  9. genora /

    All I can think…feel…or say…….simply precious!

  10. You are an amazing writer! Your posts usually bring me to tears (though not out of sadness, if that makes sense – I think it’s your bravery and determination that come through each bost), and this post was no different. I’m sending daily prayers for you to beat the cancer! Keep fighting and loving your girls!

  11. Tami /

    Reminds me of that country song about “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have missed…the dance.” -Garth Brooks??

  12. Jen /

    So beautiful!! Still thinking of you.

  13. auntie /

    Such a sweet story, love it!

  14. KimP /

    I love, love, love when older kids treat our younger kids so well and unconciously teach them such good things in the process. My girls have older cousins and some older friends they have looked up to for years – I couldn’t ask for better role models. Now that my girls are teenagers, I see the cycle continue with the younger ones as my girls are now the role models, and I know their sweetness with younger children was greatly influenced by the ones they look up to.

  15. maria Olivia /

    Oh .. that´s so beautiful…. thank you .

  16. Denice /

    What a blessing for you and for Maren! And I know for Phenom and her daughters as well. Life is hard, but God is good!

  17. Jen ~ My son’s daughters do ” Swing Dance ” which is a combo of doing tricks on the swings & dancing in the back yard ~ they set up chairs & they give us tickets. The $ for the tickets is paid w/hugs ~ I so beam just like you watching Maren ! Thank You for sharing 🙂 I am smiling sooooo big ~ just like you 🙂

  18. Isn’t it amazing to see how kids grow when they’re around older kids? So beautiful. Thinking of you always!

  19. I am so amazed, and ministered to, by the way you embrace every moment of your precious life! Thank you for sharing the journey with us!

  20. Jen, yes, your cancer story IS beautiful. Somehow, you’re making fighting cancer seem beautiful and lovely and like a gift. I suspect because that has been your attitude about life all along. What a blessing that your Maren has a place where she feels loved and welcomed during what could be a scary and lonely time for her. Blessings to Phenom and her family too!

  21. p.s. I hope you’re feeling well today. <3

  22. bungalow56 /

    Your last paragraph… Perfect.