In early March this year, I welcomed several newcomers to my Spring class session at Northampton Community College (NCC) ~ among them Ann Covalt Henry, Rita Sillivan-Smith and Cristin Terwilliger. Cristin appeared “cute as a button” and yet I also sensed she seemed somewhat fragile. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but respected her presence in the class and encouraged her same as everyone else in the class. She seemed to light up from within when we “explored” the shimmy and when Ann, Rita and Cristin left class that first night I saw them cheerfully walking arm-in-arm.
Come early April, Cristin participated in both the class I offer at NCC and a class I present at the home of the Cancer Support Community Greater Lehigh Valley (CSC). Her participation in this (CSC) class provided a glimmer of my understanding why I perceived her being ‘fragile’ upon our first meeting. Nevertheless, we once again shared smiles as I encouraged the class participants to execute a “sassy” walk consisting of stepping on the ball of the foot and then gently coming down on the heel while rolling back the shoulder, then pausing in place and rolling one shoulder and then the other while doing a slight level change. Together with the other participants we laughed when I “growled” like Eartha Kitt as Catwoman and invited everyone to infuse the movement with her own unique sassiness!
It was only a week later Cristin’s friend Ann phoned asking me to accompany her to the hospital where Cristin was admitted the night before and had been diagnosed as terminal. Needless to say this message took my breath away. I couldn’t imagine this darling young woman and her family facing such a harsh reality. I replied to Ann saying I would be honored to accompany her and shared my vision of taking a small portable sound system to play exotic, intoxicating music as we floated into her room with pink veils, danced around her bed and, hopefully, transformed her hospital room into a place full of love & light.
It seems like only moments after I’d formulated these thoughts that I received yet another message from Ann informing me Cristin’s family had contacted her to say Cristin had taken a turn for the worse and they didn’t think she would make it through the night. Deeply saddened by this update, I joined Ann (and others) in holding Cristin in the palm of our heart/mind/prayers that she might be peacefully and gracefully embraced by a host of heavenly angels in her period of transition. Ah, the veil between the worlds is thin; it’s an ethereal curtain between the minutiae of everyday living and the divine truth of eternity. Entering the divine realm, which resides just outside our everyday consciousness and linear, reasoning mind, is always a mysterious journey. As I waited for more information from Ann, thoughts of Cristin and her family consumed my thoughts over the Easter weekend and I invoked blessings from the Bringer of Light**.
In the morning a couple days later, I prepared my music and dance notes to facilitate the final class in the current NCC class session. I gathered together as many veils as I could carry to class with the intention of inviting all the participants in the class to think of the veils as angel wings or beautiful butterflies fluttering around the room sending Cristin and her family lots of love and channeling our group energy in a positive and uplifting wave of healing harmony. That night as I stood at the classroom door welcoming the class participants, Ann and Rita solemnly entered the room and shared the news that Cristin has crossed over just a few hours earlier.
Sensing Cristin’s spirit was still with us, I felt all the more determined and inspired to proceed with my “lesson plan” thus honoring her with our veil dance…. and so I announced her passing. We formed a circle of pink veils, and we swirled, twirled and floated like butterflies uplifting the spirit of this sweetheart who was with us for far too brief a time. Rita said, “I want to thank you for the lovely veil dance last evening in memory of Cristin! I know she loved the dance and she so enjoyed your class. You made everyone relax and enjoy the moment.”
In a circle of pink veils we swirled, twirled and floated like butterflies uplifting the spirit of this sweetheart...
I also invited Ann to share a few thoughts. Ann is an acupuncturist who had been treating Cristin and in the process also became a very close friend. Ann was the one who had the idea bellydance and yoga would be good for Cristin’s body mind and spirit, but Cristin had concerns about being able to participate in a dance class. After Ann’s friend Rita encouraged Ann to attend one of my drum circle classes, Ann told me she was confident she’d found the right teacher. Together with Rita, a Reiki Master who also works with flower essences, the three of them (Ann, Rita and Cristin) registered for my beginner belly dance class at NCC. Ann said, “We all have our reasons to dance, for healing, for strength, for love. During our bellydance class with Tahya, Cristin found her feminine strength. She had gone from a shy girl afraid of life and death to a young woman who embraced her power and life's path.”
My deepest sympathies go out to her beloved family and friends. It was my distinct honor and privilege to have made acquaintance with beautiful Cristin Terwilliger. She etched a place in my heart.
Cristin Terwilliger is birthed forevermore into Divine Light.
I shimmer my systrum for you my dear...
Sššt Sššt Sššt
– Tahya, 4/20/2017
Easter symbolizes *Divine Rebirth*
**Eostre or Ostara (Old English: Eastre [æːɑstre]; Old High German: Ostara (reconstructed form)) is a Germanic goddess who is the namesake of the festival of Easter symbolizing the beginning of Spring."The Bringer of Light,” she is celebrated for one month following the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.
Eostre is written about by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, wherein he states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre's honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Both the Hare and the Egg are symbols of fertility and Rebirth. In Celtic tradition, the Hare is sacred to Eostre/Eastre, and is the totem animal for many Lunar Goddesses. The Egg (and all seeds) contains ‘all potential’, full of new life.