Summer's Last Dance


I chaperoned a school dance last May. The boys stood lined up against the mats on the gym wall and the girls danced with each other in the middle of the floor. Both stayed that way for hours, apart and believing that the chance to dance would last all night. When the deejay called out his last song, they all froze, not sure how something this wonderful could end. There were flitting glances that went back and forth, from girls to boys and back again. "This is it," I whispered to the group near me, "the last song is here. If there's anyone you want to talk to before this night ends, you better do it now." A few faces looked into mine, all they needed was one more push. "It's the last dance. You don't say no to the last dance."

August is summer calling out its end. If we want to walk into autumn without looking back in regret, now is the time to slide our body off the wall and into the center.

This morning, I'm going to walk to the outdoor cafe with the shade trellis where I've yet to sit and have my coffee while the soft wind dries my hair.

I'm going to make sure the bottoms of my family's feet trek along the boardwalk that runs over the sand dunes 50 minutes from my home.

The surrey tram rides that circle the lake nearby stop running on Labor Day. We'll go there this weekend.

Since June, my children have been asking me for an old-fashioned picnic, so I've brought up the basket from the basement.

Summer will come again, but this summer won't. Everyone will be older in the one to come. We'll have experiences this year that we know nothing about right now. Lots will be different next year -- but for these days of August, right now, it's all wonderfully the same. There are five of us at home, five of us still together in this house as a family, until August comes to an end and one of us returns to school.

My children don't look that much different than they did this time last year. I'm the one who is thicker in the middle. Maybe the youngest, he may be the one most changed. There are times when he stands next to me and I swear we are eye to eye.

The golden syrupy days of late sunsets are here. When the packed summer schedule of classes is finally wrapped up and any vacations to be had are now returned from.

August is holding its hand out to me, and I've learned enough to know you don't turn away when asked for the last dance.