Debbie and Judy are twins—but Judy was born with cerebral palsy, and Debbie was not. Despite the severity of Judy’s brain damage, her parents chose to keep her at home with her three siblings, and ultimately Judy lived at home with them well into adulthood. Even after her father died, she continued to stay with her mother, her care augmented by a succession of home attendants—until, that is, her doctor told Debbie that Judy’s care at home was wanting and she would not survive without nursing home care.
In We Used to Dance, Debbie tells of the emotional trauma she experienced when she was forced to place her sister—a sister unable to sit, stand, eat regular food, feed herself, use a bathroom, or make her needs and desires known through speech or other means—in a new and strange environment. Following Judy’s life in her new home as well as her past relationship with Debbie and the rest of their immediate family, this is a raw, personal memoir of love and guilt—and, ultimately, acceptance.