Tonight, I danced it out. I played my favorite tunes on my phone, and I danced it out in the shadows of my living room. My feet bounced and my hips swayed. I spun in circles and let the music take me. I closed my eyes and sunk into the rhythm of release. I danced it out.
Shonda Rhimes introduced me to this concept. Her Grey’s Anatomy characters Meredith and Cristina taught me to dance it out. There is something cathartic with taking the stress and heartache that invades and coils around your soul until you feel you have become immobilized and just dancing it loose, releasing it out your fingers and toes as you shimmy and whirl with a wild abandon and a disregard for societal protocols. There is a relief in releasing your body within a song. It sets you free.
The night we said goodbye to my sister, we danced it out. With women who loved my sister, we danced it out. As women together in sisterhood, we stepped out of our isolation, unleashed our pain, and grieved together. Under the night sky, we took our sorrow and we let it wild.
Tonight, nearly nine months later, I danced it out alone. In an apartment empty of other life except that of a small, tired dog and an aloe vera plant, I danced it out.
Some people work out their problems. But work is work. Why work when you can dance? I sang along to songs of courage. I sashayed to Reba’s “Walk On” and belted out Dolly’s “Here I Am.”
My sister loved Grey’s Anatomy. When I went away to college and stopped keeping up with the show, I was chided by her. How would I ever be able to have conversations with her and the family? Now, that show is one way I still I talk to her.
When I dance it out, I feel closer to her. In the alternative, the days where I hold in my hurt and sink into anger or hurt, I feel farther from her. I feel like I dishonor her. It’s when I live boldly and joyfully that I can feel her best. So I dance it out and I get a sense of her nearby.
I have a Grey’s Anatomy mug. It’s my favorite mug. My friend Jerilyn got it for me. She is my person. She is one of them, at least. The mug displays a simple image of Meredith and Cristina beneath the words “You are my person.” Another concept that has become part of my lexicon, “my person” is like a soulmate among friends. Anne of Green Gables would call this person “my bosom friend” or “a kindred spirit.” Cristina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy describes it as such: “If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor. She’s my person.” Jerilyn, gifter of my mug, is my corpse-dragging person. But who says you can only have one?
Katie was also my person. She was just the person I didn’t appreciate all the time. She was my sister, younger by just two-and-a-half years, so, of course, I didn’t always appreciate her. She was always going to be there no matter what. That was the deal. That’s what we were taught. When that is a foundational truth, you take it for granted. But Katie would definitely have helped me to bury a body if I needed someone. She was my fierce protector. She could treat me like shit, but heaven help anyone else who did. That is sisterhood as I know it. Katie was my person.
But as I found on that dark night on my parents’ back patio when I danced it out with women who loved my sister, sisterhood goes beyond blood.
Women of my sisterhood are my people. Jerilyn is my person. My mom is my person. Melissa is my person. Liz and Lucy are my persons. My real life Meredith is my person. And many more women are mine and I am theirs. I have more than one person.
So I lost my first person, my first sister, my sister of blood. I lost the girl who once spit brave words at a much bigger bully, a bully who had me in a headlock. I lost the girl who knew I would always answer my phone when she rang. I lost the girl who would take down whatever and whoever brought me tears, but I am not alone.
Even as I dance it out by myself in an empty apartment, I have her above. She is dancing with me. She is still my sister, so she, of course, is also mocking the weird faces I make as I dance. She is calling me a dork, but she is still my person. And, on earth, I have women across many states who will dance it out with me, who are here for me in spirit if not in body.
I invite you all to dance it out with me. Dance in whatever space you have, dance in whatever you are wearing, dance to whatever music makes you melt into the rhythm. I invite you to take the heartache, the bitterness, the pain and dance it out with me. It’s not just for the sisterhood; it’s not just women who can dance it out. I invite you all to dance it out with me. Let your body loosen and unwind, let it release out the negative until you can find the peace again. Let yourself dance out all the poison until the only weight you feel is a sweet exhaustion that promises a serene slumber. Dance with whoever or no one at all. Dance by yourself, but know you don’t dance alone. Dance with me and with Cristina and with Meredith and with my people on earth and my sister above. Dance it out.