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Just Clap

Have you ever raced against your own “personal best”? “PB” they call it, and it frees one runner to clap for another, each running an individual race. And what if love means being free to celebrate instead of compete? What if her victory does not mean your loss?

What if we were all free to just clap?

“Mommy, I’ve been praying that Kiara would get into the gala…” This from our eldest daughter, Jada Grace.

Jada Grace watches her sister with untainted love...

Some of you saw correctly that she was also in the photograph last week when Kiara did her ballet exam. They went in one after the other, both doing Intermediate Foundation. Jada prefers to remain on the down low when it comes to social media. (Mommy, some of my friends follow you, you know!) Kiara, on the other hand, although by no means asking for it, understands the significance of her willingness to remain vulnerable. She still feels a connection with “The People of the World”, as we affectionately dubbed those who followed her story.

Jada has been praying and hoping for her sister’s success. It takes me back to five or six years ago, when they first did their ballet exams in the same sitting. Around the province of KZN, dancers are examined annually in the Cecchetti method of ballet, and those who receive 70% and above qualify to dance in the showcase Gala Performance of Excellence in Dance at our Durban city theatre, The Playhouse.

That first year when we got the call, Kiara had got in, and Jada had not. Eleven-year-old Jada was clapping and singing and skipping around the house all afternoon, delighted that her sister had achieved her heart’s desire. Kiara, on the other hand, was conspicuously absent. I went looking for her and found her sitting on the floor at the foot of her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees and her face buried, weeping silently.

“What’s the matter?” I asked my soft-hearted little girl. She lifted her still-rounded, eight-year-old face and watery, blue eyes to mine. Her voice caught as she explained, “I’m sad that Jada didn’t get into the gala.”

Oh, the sweetness of true love, that puts another’s feelings above one’s own. Do we ever truly love the way we did when we were young, when our hearts were fresh and unjaded? As we feel the need to qualify ourselves, to prove ourselves one against another, our shells of self-preservation slowly calcify year after year.

We wait with baited breath to hear the news from this recent exam. The examiner has come from Canada, and has had no warning of Kiara’s accident. She has always qualified to get in before the accident… It is a significant test for us all.

The call comes.

She got in!

We’re doing a happy dance, and Jada blurts out, “I was praying for Kiara to get in!”

I smile over her head at Richard. The acidity of the trauma has softened our shells as we soaked in the reality of life and death. The true love in our hearts has been revealed again, and its sweetness permeates our lives. Jada claps in child-like delight and we laugh out loud. It does not occur to her that Kiara’s victory could mean her loss. They each run their own race; they love generously; they are free to just clap.

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