A few months before leaving the US, I was fortunate to find Contact Improv every Tuesday night at Harvard Square. There, I let my mind quiet into movement and breath. There, I let my concerns, my worries, and even my thoughts about the upcoming departure from the US be brought into peaceful stillness.

I always did Contact Improv in silence. At times, I experienced the deepest connection with someone, without exchanging a single word. Sometimes, names would be exchanged. Sometimes, not even that, just a gaze and a smile.

Echo was someone I danced with one or two times—I cannot exactly recall. She was a woman of the dearest heart and the bravest courage to get beautiful tattoos in her arms—that’s all I ever ‘knew’ about her. The true knowledge was unspoken, was wisdom shared through movement.

A few days ago, I was sitting on a café in India. A message came to me from a friend I only knew from Contact Improv in Cambridge. This friend announced sadly that Echo had been diagnosed with cancer. Soon, her cancer advanced to the stage in which she was very sick and unable to dance. Echo passed away two weeks ago.

Before her passing, Echo left a message for me that she was unable to give to me directly, for we only knew each other’s first names, that was it.  But Lisa, another fellow Contact Improv dancer, found me online, and recognized me.  Lisa then passed to me Echo’s words, that brought my heart to tears. I wrote this poem in memory of Echo. I hope it will awaken in the same awakening it had on me.

You never know when will be your last dance with someone

You never know
when you will
have your last dance
with someone;

You never know
the sacredness
behind your interactions
with another person;

This being human,
is a fleeting experience.

You may not see
the tears and joys
that your arms,
your hands,
and feet
may lead
someone to feel
at last;

But sometimes,
may remember
by name,
from that single

And approaching death,

were the last
I danced with.
It was just

These words must
echo in your heart,
all the time:
the impact of your actions
have far greater effects
than you can
predict or expect.

Echo, may you rest in peace. May you find ease. May you open your heart now to the source of all beauty, to the stillness that makes all dances possible. May your memorial on November 5th, in Jamaica Plan, be a call to awakening for those who can attend.  May we all remember the specialness of each moment we have.  For they pass, and pass quickly.

Lisa, thank you for relaying Echo’s message to me. They’re still echoing within me.

Peace and love from Allahabad, India,