I spent some time reflecting on last week’s sentencing hearing. Throughout the three hours in the courtroom, the judge maintained a stoic demeanor, silently listening. However, towards the end, after delivering sentences to the two defendants who took my sister-in-law’s life, the judge shared some words of comfort with our family. She acknowledged a painful truth – that we don’t have a “justice” system capable of bringing Lori back to life. Instead, we operate within a “legal” system that simply guides her decision on the duration of the defendants' imprisonment.

In a poignant moment, the judge directly addressed my young daughter, who earlier had bravely expressed the impact of her aunt’s murder. The judge wanted her to understand that, despite the tragedy, the court also plays a role in happier events like adoptions and marriages. (Ironically, as we left the court that evening and stepped off the first-floor elevator, a large wedding party in the foyer was capturing joyful moments.)

The judge then shared a quote attributed to Anne Lamott:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken. The bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

In the context of the hearing (both through some of the victim impact statements as well as photos of Lori) the judge picked up on the fact that Lori enjoyed dancing. Lori was known for spontaneous dance parties, using them as a vehicle to express her joy. The judge encouraged us to honor Lori by learning to dance with a limp – acknowledging our wounds, feeling the pain, and adapting our moves. Even if it’s not the same, she urged us to keep dancing.

The truth is, living on this earth brings inevitable limps – physical, emotional, or spiritual. Most of us are already walking with a limp; I certainly am. Yet, I realize the need to dance more. To actively seek joy in every moment and, when it seems elusive, to strive to create it—for myself and others. And when I do, perhaps, just perhaps, I need to dance and think of Lori.