So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

There’s an old Garth Brooks song called The Dance.

In it, he muses what he would have done if he had a chance to go back and change things knowing the heartache and pain that was yet to come. Would he go back and avoid the path of knowing and loving his person if it meant never having to experience the pain after that love was gone?

If Garth was aiming for a tear-jerker, he hit the Niagara Falls jackpot with this one, as many of you may already know.

“Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye . . .”

That thought—the “turn back time and change things” thought—is something that’s occasionally passed through my brain the past 11 months since my husband Matthew died. It’s a hypothetical that people ask, too. Would I do it all again knowing it would end tragically heartbreaking? How could I answer that? Simple. Even if you took my children out of the equation, because I couldn’t dream a world without them in it, I know my answer would still be the same every time.

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance.”

October is my favorite month. Everything about the leaves changing color, football on TV, the excuse to put Baileys in your coffee . . . I love it all. It’s why I chose a fall wedding. My anniversary would have been October 26th. We would have been married 16 years this year. It will be my first without him. Instead of forcing him to watch “my favorite movie” (our wedding video) on the couch together (something I religiously did for 15 years), I mull over the fact it’s been almost a year since my children and I buried him. I often tell the kids what a great dancer their father was. How, despite being an introvert who hated starting or holding conversation, their daddy loved to be on a dance floor. The arms up, the swag-sidesway, the silly grin. I remember how he even agreed to ballroom dancing classes the month before our wedding because I wanted us to have a memorable first dance at our wedding reception.

“Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I the king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all…”

Over the course of 15 years (20 together), we had been on countless dance floors. Friends and family weddings, reunions, late-night bar hopping, restaurant karaoke nights—if they were playing music, we were usually out there. One of the first times I laid eyes on him, he was dancing at his college dormmates’ Valentine’s Day party. I was never the greatest dancer, but over the years I always joined him. He made it fun being in his arms out there no matter how badly I embarrassed myself (even if that meant being dragged off the floor in his arms because a bar bouncer kicked me out for a failed cartwheel/back handspring as the DJ played Justin Bieber).

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go…”

During our wedding night dance, we box-stepped to John Michael Montgomery’s country ballad, Home to You. It was a late 90s song about the love and comfort you find with someone and no matter the day you’ve had or what you look like at the end of it, feeling the blessing that is being able to come home to that person every night.

We loved that song.

It was on the dance floor that he whispered over the music that those were the words he had engraved on the inside of my wedding band he slipped on my finger just hours earlier, “Home to You.”

Dancing there on that floor with him, in front of all our wedding guests in a crowded reception hall on the top floor of that downtown building in my hometown South Bend, Indiana, I saw every thing, every place, every person I ever wanted to be and more forever with him. There couldn’t have been any more love bursting from my heart that night and I won’t forget it. I can’t forget it. Everything was right in the world that night.

“Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
but I’d have had to miss the dance . . .”

That love, that feeling of euphoric perfectness at that moment in time 16 years ago, was worth all the pain, sadness and discontent that has or ever will befall me in this lifetime. He was worth the pain.

I choose, and will forever choose the dance.

Andrea Remke

Andrea Remke is a recent transplant to Arizona after having lived in Kentucky for 20 years. She has a degree in communications and journalism from Saint Mary's College, South Bend, Ind. She is a widowed mother of a 13-year-old, twin 10-year-olds, and an 8-year-old. She is a freelance writer at www.andrearemke.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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