Rebekah is eight years old, and she loves to dance. She loves to stand on her toes and spin around and around until she feels dizzy. Rebekah loves to clap her hands to a tune that only she can hear. Then, she falls to the floor in a fit of giggles and smiles. However, she has a bad habit of dancing in the most inappropriate of places - mostly funerals. No one knows how she picked it up, but everyone knows that she does it. Today is her father's funeral.
The young minister is speaking about what a solemn and humble man Rebekah's father was. He stands safely on his pulpit hiding from any dangers, when, suddenly, little Rebekah comes into view. She has escaped her mother's grasp and is now twirling and laughing next to the minister. He stops speaking and nervously looks down at Rebekah as she tugs his hand, pleading with him to dance with her. When he looks towards the crowd of grieving family and friends with fright, they stare him down. The minister pulls his hand out of the little girl's grasp. She simply laughs and dances towards the open casket containing her father. Rebekah continues to spin around, occasionally grabbing onto the sides of the coffin. Finally, her mother makes her way from her pew up to the front of the church and roughly grabs Rebekah by the arm, stopping her in mid-twirl. There are rude mumblings throughout the church.
"Stop it, stop it Rebekah!" she whispers harshly. The little girl stops dancing but does not lose her smile. She follows her mother back to the pew and sits down gracefully. Her mother looks up, realizing that her only daughter has made a huge scene. She smiles, embarrassed, and speaks to the crowd.
"I don't know what's gotten into her. Honestly, it's like she's not even in the room."
Rebekah is thirty years old, and she loves to dance. She grew up being told that her kind of dancing was evil, that she should never dance again. But Rebekah paid no attention to that, and now she is a dance teacher. She still has that bad habit of dancing at inappropriate times, though. Today is Rebekah's husband's funeral. It is held in the same church that her father's funeral was held. After all, hardly anyone escapes this small town. The organ is playing and people are praying. Suddenly, the music stops and everyone looks up to see thirty year old Rebekah twirling in pirouettes at the front of the church with a huge grin on her face. She motions for others to come and dance with her, and mothers have to hold their children back. Rebekah continues to move fluidly while the church grows more and more uncomfortable. The rude mumblings begin once more.
"I don't understand her..."
"It's completely disrespectful! And at her own husband's funeral!"
"Honestly, it's like she's not even in the room."
Rebekah is sixty years old, and she loves to dance. Even after the parents of her dance students made them quit and her dancing school went out of business, Rebekah still loves to dance. Even after she was deemed more than a little bit loopy and was turned away from most funerals, she still loves to dance. Today is Rebekah's son-in-law's funeral. Everyone fears the worst, and their fears will soon be realized. The pallbearers are about to take the casket away, when they are interrupted by the sound of shoes being kicked off. As they turn, they see sixty year old Rebekah, her daughter, and her granddaughter moving towards the front of the familiar church. The entire congregation lets out a groan as some people get up to leave. The two women and one girl begin to move rhythmically. Even in her sixties, Rebekah can still pull off a decent pirouette. Nobody knows what to say. Nobody except a very old man who has seen every one of Rebekah's "special" dances. It is the minister from Rebekah's father's funeral. He grabs his cane and pulls himself up, a glare on his face.
"Why do you do this, Rebekah?" his crackly voice shouts. Everyone stares, some nodding their heads. Rebekah's daughter and granddaughter stop, but she continues to dance.
"I know you hear me, little Rebekah! Why is it that you can have no reverence for the dead? Why must you desecrate their funerals with your dancing?" the old minister shouts. Rebekah lets out a giggle and turns her head skyward. Her daughter looks towards the girl, who steps forward.
"Mister, please listen. My Grandma is not crazy, she is not mean, and she is not disrespectful," the girl says, "All she wants to do is keep them here for one more dance."
The entire congregation looks confused, and the old minister doesn't look pleased.
"What are you talking about, child?" he asks harshly. Instead of cowering, the girl smiles and takes another step forward.
"Ever since she was little, my Grandma has loved to dance. Even when the people she loved the most told her it was wrong, she knew better. The reason that she dances is so that she can hold onto the memories of those who have passed away just a little bit longer. It's the same as putting a flower on their grave. She is remembering them, and if she dances the right way, it's like they're dancing with her. And then, it's like they never left."
There is a silence that follows that no one expected.
Rebekah is eighty years old, and she has died. Today is Rebekah's funeral, and everyone will dance.