Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

by admin on February 5, 2013

Terminal Soul 1

It’s a good day!  I have been (not so patiently) waiting for six months to watch this magic moment.  Truth is – I was backstage maneuvering lights, fans, a ginormous 11-yard scarf, assisting in quick changes, and – well – overall peeing my pants with nerves, excitement and emotion.  Needless to say, I was not able to witness this special moment in it’s fullness until tonight.  And, also needless to say, I have melted into a blubbering puddle of my own tears.

First, you need to know the story.  I was talking to a new friend one night, learning about her daughter’s battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  As a mother myself, her story hit me to the core.  The daily struggle of watching your child suffer, the shortened life expectancy, the heartache of not knowing what the future holds.  I could not begin to imagine this woman’s pain… and courage.  That night I fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming about her daughter and all the heartache that her little life would hold.  I dreamt of an angel, choosing to come to earth, join a family, and experience what she knew was to be a shortened and difficult life.  I saw her dancing toward a light – her family pulling her back – but her constant communication with them that, although she knew it was painful for all, she needed to return to her Home.  I woke in tears imagining what it would be like for that soul.  One that comes to the earth for a only fleeting moment, to spread their light and teach us all about the true meaning of life.


After the piece was created, we were able to perform it for this sweet child, and it was an experience I will truly never forget.  Her family was in attendance and there was not a dry eye in the room.  It was the most real – yet incredible, most human – yet spiritual experience that I had ever felt as a choreographer.  Suddenly, the dance was not for competitions.  It was not for praise or movement or even artistry.  This piece was an expression of love, hope and compassion for those of us, all of us, who experience the life and loss of one we love to a terminal illness.

After I was accepted into the Capezio A.C.E. Awards (for the submission of a different piece of choreography) this piece gained a new and more personal meaning.  My brother and sister-in-law were having complications in their pregnancy.  She was on bed rest and eventually became hospitalized.  Not two weeks later they welcomed their angel into the world much too early.  They named their daughter Afton Jean Bigler, weighing a very scary 12.7oz.  I immediately flew out to Utah to be with my family and meet this miracle baby.  I could not believe my eyes.  You just cannot imagine anything so beautiful, so incredibly small, and yet breathing and heart-a-beating.  It was simply amazing.  For her first day she seemed stable, and we were all cautiously optimistic and as prayerful as you can imagine.  Then, her second day on the earth, Afton had her first head ultrasound and the Neonatologists discovered significant brain injury due to lack of blood to her brain. The injury covered large portions of her occipital and parietal lobes, along with additional damage to her temporal lobe.  The doctors explained to my incredibly courageous brother and sister-in-law what this meant for their child’s quality of life.  In that unimaginable moment, they knew that Afton’s fight would not be won.  She would soon have to return to her Father in Heaven.


The days that followed were some of the most poignant, unforgettable days that I have experienced.  Watching Afton’s parents show unsurmountable courage through heartbreak, the sensation of heaven becoming so close to earth, and feeling a tangible Afton, in angel form, strengthening us all.  This piece, “Terminal Soul” suddenly had a new purpose.  A dedication to my niece, the angel who was truly too pure to be separated from heaven.  God gave our family a moment with her, to change us forever, but she was simply too special to remain here on this imperfect earth.

ACE Awards

Although the piece had already been performed, and made it’s rounds through the “convention circuit” — I needed another opportunity now that it had new meaning – to dedicate it to Afton and her sweet parents.  I knew that the A.C.E. Awards were the perfect venue – a longer time limit, a more mature audience.  I gathered up five of the most special dancers I have ever worked with, and together we re-created this tribute of love and loss.  Afton’s mom was able to attend, and I have no doubt that her Angel was there too.

You may view the piece HERE.

I hope you enjoy.  This piece, this moment, will forever be etched in my heart.


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