Twelve Reasons to Believe: Every Moment is a Gift

By Laura Edwards

The following is 11th in a 12-post series.

Last night, Mom, Taylor and I made our annual trip to uptown Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center for the Nutcracker Ballet.

The Nutcracker has always been Taylor’s favorite part of the Christmas season. It has been a while since the lights went dark for her, but she still remembers the sights of the ballet from before she lost her vision. When the Arabian dancers came onto the stage during the second act, she cried out, “The snake!” The people around us likely wondered what in the heck my little sister was talking about (or why she was talking at all), but Mom and I knew Taylor remembered that several years ago, the female dancer used a prop snake in her dance. And T may be blind now, but she never forgets.

It has been a somber Christmas season for my family, as my beloved grandmother is in her last days in this world (before she got sick, our Nutcracker trio was a quartet). But weeks ago, Mom and I resolved to keep our tradition despite the difficult days both behind and ahead of us.

Only God knows how many more times the three of us will be able to attend together. But for now, we have moments like this.

Moments that give me reason to believe.


From the Rafters

By Laura Edwards

Mom, Taylor, and I made our annual trip uptown to see The Nutcracker at Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center on Sunday night.

For me, Christmas wouldn’t be whole without these two precious hours spent with my two favorite girls. We were up in the rafters this time around, but none of us cared. Taylor, of course, goes solely for the music. I love the ballet, but I go mostly because almost nothing makes me happier than seeing my mom and my little sister smile. I’m not quite sure how many times I’ve seen The Nutcracker, but that will never get old.

I cry very little these days; sometimes, I wonder if my tear ducts haven’t all but dried out thanks to the events of the past four-plus years. But at the zenith of my favorite part of the ballet, “Pas De Deux” (the dance of the sugar plum fairy and her prince near the end of Act II), I glanced over at my mom, and I lost it.

Only God knows how many more times the three of us will be able to go to The Nutcracker together. Our next chance is a year away, and I can’t take anything that far out for granted. I can’t take next month, next week, or tomorrow for granted. To be fair, none of us can. But Batten disease changes the game. The curse that is Batten disease makes each day my family is still whole even more of a blessing. The present is fleeting. But those two wonderful hours in the Blumenthal rafters with my girls will live on in my heart forever.


By Laura Edwards

It’s been a nostalgic week around here.

Friday night, John and I flew through the aisles at Michael’s 10 minutes before they closed and made it up to checkout with armfuls of art supplies just as they locked the front door. We recently dragged out our high school art portfolios and got inspired (to make more art, not take the time to move the enormous portfolios from the office floor back to the closet where they belong). This fall, whenever our interest in the football game on TV is just lukewarm, we’ll watch it from the back of our bonus room, where we have a rickety table that wouldn’t exactly strike you as a place for art but will become one just the same.

Two days after our adventure at Michael’s, the Panthers were down two touchdowns when I heard the piano movers arrive (I wish I could have seen their faces the moment they discovered my mountainous driveway, double-checked the address on the mailbox, realized that yes, that was the house, and regret that they weren’t charging me a whole lot more money). The grand piano my mom got for her 14th birthday – the one that has resided at my grandmother’s house ever since – is now sitting in my great room. It is a resilient instrument, having survived a fire and a couple of moves. It is a beautiful piece of art and deserves to be played by someone who is not 10 years out of practice, which is why I tried to teach myself to sight-read again tonight and unexpectedly played a duet with my dog, Daisy, who isn’t used to the piano and, as I just learned, likes to sit behind the bench and bark on the high notes.

After Daisy and I finished our duet tonight, I returned to my laptop and bought tickets to our high school reunion. I don’t look all that much different than I did 10 years ago, but somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, I got 10 years older.

I can explain the sudden urge to relearn the piano after all these years, but I can’t explain why John and I dug through all of the junk in our storage closet to get to a bunch of drawings/paintings we did in high school, nor can I explain what possessed us to spend all that money on art supplies (money well spent, but why now?). I also can’t explain why I sat cross-legged in the floor of our office after dinner tonight, rifling through photos from my Charlotte Soccer Club days, or why I’m listening to Deep Blue Something right now, which hasn’t been cool since I was 14 (if it ever was). Maybe I’m running away from the present. After all, it’s been raining in my world this week, and for all the optimism I preach in this space, for all that talk about dancing in the rain, a lot of times, I just want to crawl into my shell and try in vain to stay dry. My life wasn’t perfect before I knew my sister has Batten disease, but it sure was a hell of a lot easier. I only wish I’d known how blessed I was at the time. Don’t we all say that at some point in our lives?

Mom, Taylor and I went to the Blumenthal Sunday night to see Mary Poppins. For all the injustices that have been done to T, she’s still better at dancing in the rain than her big sister. She couldn’t see the coolest parts of the show (when Bert walked up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other wall, and when Mary Poppins floated out over the crowd and glided into one of the balconies), but she still smiled and laughed and had a great time and clapped along with the crowd when the cast sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.” T loves theater/ballet/etc. and always has. Even when she was really little, The Nutcracker was one of the highlights of the year for her.

Here is an old picture of T, our brother Stephen and me at one of those Christmas productions when T was a toddler. I realize the picture quality’s bad, but does she look happy or what? Back then, I took those moments for granted. Now, I treasure them, partly because I don’t have any idea how many more we’ll share. I’m already nostalgic for our night at Mary Poppins. I’m nostalgic for the dinner we shared at Jason’s Deli two weeks ago. I’m nostalgic for future moments with T, and I hope to God there will be a lot of them.