Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pressed Against the Pane, Part 3

Jack could not remember having ever felt so sad, ashamed and disappointed.

Mary gently caressed his arm, saying, “Not to worry, not to worry, I love you, I love you…”

Jack tried to smile strongly down at his beautiful, trusting wife, but his disappointment was hard to hide.

Jack’s performance that night was lifeless. His heart and mind were far away, and so when his knee twisted in the landing of a grand tour jete, he barely noticed the audience gasp or the pain shoot through his left leg.

Lying in the hospital for the following two weeks as the tendons in his knee attempted to mend, Jack kept imagining his father walking into the room, telling him he was sorry for leaving, that he was proud of him, and asking him to please come home. He stared at the door a lot.

But only Mary came to his room, and more truthfully, Mary rarely left the room in order to enter it.

The only other visitor was the director of the tour. After speaking with the doctor and hearing the negative prognosis concerning Jack’s ability to ever dance again, the director informed the couple that the tour would have to move on without them. They were devastated. Mary tried to hide her grief but her chest had sunk several inches. To have lost both biological family and adopted family in the span of a few short days was almost too much for Jack to bear. He fell into a deep depression and probably would have never walked again if not for the persistent presence of Mary at his side. As she silently moved his body to stand or to take one more step, her muscles spoke to his, infusing him with a hope that could not be contained by words. Their bodies kept them alive.

As he began to take longer and longer jaunts, the sight of Mary’s joy at his accomplishment almost erased the loss and disappointment clinging to his being. But not quite.

Leaving the hospital a few weeks later to begin their new life together, Jack made Mary promise never to mention his past in dancing again.

Mary began teaching in the small ballet school in Kansas City begun by Madame Najinska where she had been a student herself. Jack retreated to stocking shelves at a small, family-owned bookstore. The silence of printed words was a much needed respite from the limelight and applause of the dance world.

A few years later Mary had an opportunity to transfer to the Najinska School in Tulsa, and she convinced Jack that proximity to his family might one day lead to an actual reunion. Jack remained doubtful, but he wanted Mary to be happy.