43: One Last Dance

43: One Last Dance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible

One Last Dance

Someday I may find my Prince Charming, but my daddy will always be my King.

~Author Unknown

For most fourteen-year-old girls living in a border town, the world revolves around quinceaňeras. Yet there was no mention of such an event in my household. There was no talk about damas and chambelanes or about the color schemes or the dresses. There was no planning about where to hold the coming-of-age celebration or what music to select. There was no discussion about the guest list or the main course.

I helped my friends plan their parties and went to what seemed like dozens of quinceaňeras. I must’ve had five to six fittings for all the ruffled dresses I wore as a dama that year. Whenever anyone asked if I was having a “quince” or “¿Que van a ser tus colores?” my go-to response was always, “I’m saving up for a car.” I even had myself convinced until that night when I cried while the band played “Tiempo de Waltz” at my friend’s quinceaňera.

I went home early from the party, and although I tried to conceal my runny nose and red eyes, my mother could tell something was wrong. I did not want to lie, but what I feared most about telling her the truth was that I didn’t want her to think I was selfish. You see, it’s pretty petty and self-serving to be pining over a silly party when your dad is dying.

I finally confessed. I shared with my mom that I wanted nothing more than to have my own father-daughter dance. My dad had been diagnosed with Stage 5 cancer and given five months to live. By this time, he was in a wheelchair and had trouble remembering his children’s names.

My mother pawned the little bit of jewelry she owned, and borrowed money from friends and family in order to raise enough money for my quinceaňeras. In two weeks time we had printed homemade invitations and cleaned up and decorated my back yard by wrapping peach ribbons around the mesquite trees. We covered the borrowed tables with white plastic tablecloths, and set up a makeshift dance floor by draping Christmas lights around the basketball hoop. My madrina baked a three-layer cake covered in white frosting with peach flowers. My friends gathered with me in our satin, peach dresses and high heels on December 7th, six months before my actual fifteenth birthday, so I could have my very own father-daughter dance with my dad.

As the music started my mom pushed my dad’s wheelchair up the ramp toward the center of the basketball court where I stood waiting. My dad motioned for her to stop and slowly raised himself from the chair and took my hand for the first and last waltz we would share.

~Erika Chody

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