Our Last Dance

Our Last Dance


It is early October and my little family embarks on our last rendezvous with Poppy. She has served us well this summer. She taught me how to be brave and strong, she helped us form rock solid memories, she helped me gather up some of my pieces and found just the right spot for them inside of me, and she exposed my babes to more of life’s simple pleasures.

It’s the first time this trio has camped alone. Family and friends have joined us on previous trips. Each run has offered its own sweet flavor. Having the fortune of connecting with these two small souls, each holding a piece of my own, one-on-one and away from familiar distraction, feels like something so good, I might not deserve it.

We sit around a crackling fire singing songs the night we arrive, layered in clothing to blanket us from autumn’s crisp kiss. Kumbaya all the way. Serious. And it was just right for right then. Their glowing faces reflected contentment and comfort. They don’t just like camping together, they love it.

Although I forgot a pillow for myself to sleep on, along with handful of other very important things (my trademark, really), the chill in the air promises a delicious night of snuggling in our master nest – the right wing of Poppy. We use each other for warmth and cushion.

Instead of the usual layered serenade of frogs chirping us to sleep, we hear geese honking overhead, their calls rising into crescendo right above our camper and waning as they pass over.

This sound reminds me that I have moved through another season. It prompts me to evaluate where I stand. How am I different from the woman who showed up just a few months ago? It’s hard to believe that I’m still in what feels like a state of perpetual metamorphosis – this chapter of life. A piece of me hopes this never ends and fears that changes in my life, sharing a slice of my solitude in the future, could do just that. What if I’m stopped short before discovering the full splendor and might of my wings?

I’ve added many responsibilities to my life load recently, and this past week I felt it more than usual. The weight of juggling it all and being enough for my babes weighed heavily on my shoulders. My house was left in a state of distress when we hit the road. It looks like it’s been hit by hurricane Busy, and that’s ok. Recharging my spirit will bring it all back into place.

Gathered in the camper after the fire, we all work away at something soothing. I turn down the light of my screen and write; emptying thoughts and making sense of them the best I’m able. Occasionally a stray tear creeps down my cheek but we all know tears can be a result of happiness and sadness and either way, they all bring you forward. Little Man builds a new Lego set and Little Lady gets lost in her sketchbook.

Rain and music mingle in the background and we are all singing quietly to ourselves, together, to real grown-up songs – no Raffi or Kid-a-Palooza. Little Man can find a beat in anything and it moves through his body. Little Lady’s voice is expressive and loaded with emotion. She’s a feeler. I pause to take this in and wonder how they both got so big.

We hike miles of rocky, riverside trails to and from the fascinating glacial potholes, one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve seen in this state. As we explore the trails in unfiltered awe and wonder, I recognize myself underestimating Little Lady’s capability and agility as she hikes, climbs, and winds her way through the rocky terrain. My mama reflexes reach out to support an arm or help her down a steep and slippery stretch; to be there in the ways that she needed me when she was younger. She looks up at me, offering a loaded expression, patiently awaiting my retreat before she continues on. I translate the message. At one point she says, “I don’t need you, Mom,” before jumping off the sharp ledge. She’s right. Not anymore, it becomes clear. Her soggy piggy tails that are starting to twirl and wind from the ends up, wrapped in the humidity of the misting rain in the air, bounce as she carries on down the trail.

“I never want this day to end.”

“This day is amazing.”

“This is the best day ever.”

Heard loudly, felt deeply. Food for a mama’s soul.


We spent hours on a simple shore covered in smooth river stones skipping rocks, building dams – watching leaves respond to the patterns in the water, searching for our signature heart shaped rocks, and collecting ‘sea glass’. Little Lady marks our treasures with a handmade flag. I’m given the gift of watching my own childhood unfold through my children.

It drizzled and rained – even stormed heavily once – throughout much of our trip. Despite the challenge that can present, I admire the ease in which the babes handle it all. They were unfazed and adventurous and willing and open.

They begged for more – for more of what exists naturally, for that which is simple, for what seeps in reaching the deepest of fulfilling senses, for what changes them and not just entertains them.

Babes, it is my hope that I touch your lives a fraction of the volume that you have touched mine. Thank you for teaching me about adulthood through your childhood.

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What’s on your mind? I love to be inspired.


  1. Very Cool!

  2. Kathy Christensen says

    Jess – you are AMAZING!!I LOVE to read of your adventures. Your “littles” are certainly lucky!!

  3. tears are running down my cheeks too , tears of joy……. your words are always beautiful honey, keep on writing…your babes are going to look back at these written memories some day and be so proud of their mama, love, your mama

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