In Our Hearts

I woke up with a dream fresh in my head. Delph was going to Uni – and I was going with her. She had to do a test and we were doing our thing where we come up with the answer together and she writes it out. Fine at 12-years old but in my dream it felt like turds in our beer.

The Uni was pretty bleak too. Empty rooms, with hardly any people around. I don’t know what Delph was studying but it wasn’t rocking her boat. Then, as we were walking back home, we passed the university dance studio. There was a man dancing inside. He was our friend in the dream. In reality, he looked like Kwame – Delph’s surf teacher. Huh.

Anyhow, he came up to us and started chatting. Delph instantly changed – from the burdened, unenthusiastic kid doing the test to being happy and light again. I found myself asking if Delph could join their dancing degree programme.

‘Sure,’ he said, ‘you just have to write the answer to one question.’

What was the question? I don’t know, I woke up. But I woke up knowing she could do it. Oh yeah, she can totally do that.

Delph’s Aberystwyth dance show was last night. Her dance school’s been rehearsing for two months. Delph was in the explorers dance. She wore an explorer’s outfit with a red sash. I wish I could say it went well, but I don’t remember much of it. I wasn’t off my head or anything – I was just so fixated on watching Delph I couldn’t really capture the rest of the dance. It’s like my eyes turned into microscopes. I’ll have to buy the DVD to appreciate the actual choreography. 

It’s an experience – watching your disabled kid dance in an able-bodied dance school. Able-bodied dance tends to be about the dancing aesthetic. This is neither a surprise nor a bad thing – if you’re able-bodied, the world’s your oyster. Standards are set by what humans can achieve, whether it’s going to the Moon, diving in the deepest abyss or standing on wooden blocks while spinning. We were close enough to hear the pointe shoes screaming softly on the stage floor. Like a silk orchestra.

Then Delph’s group came on. I saw the fear in her eyes and her right arm tighten up. It went straight through me. Suddenly I hated her being disabled. Why can’t she be like everybody else? The thought hit me like a visceral truck. I’m sorry this isn’t the most politically-correct or positive, Earth mother reaction, but when I see Delph’s arm tighten up and the fear flash in her blue-grey eyes, I want to take it all away. 

I wondered how many other people in the audience could see Delph’s disability. Or did they think she was just stiff and nervous? I’ll never know the answer. I also won’t know how many applauded her bravery. One other girl in Delph’s dance school is disabled. She’s slightly older than Delph and has Down’s Syndrome. She danced amazingly last night. I texted her mum, Karen, and she texted me right back. We congratulated our girls. Today this mum is the only person who understands how I feel. Dance is about the aesthetic, but for Karen and I, it’s more than that. It’s pride and regret and helpless love up on that stage. It’s dancing into one.

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