I wait in the clearing for them to join me. It is my celebration, after all.

The sun is shining, bathing the lea in a warm glow. There is an entire meadow of soft greenery for us to dig our toes into. Nothing sharp, nothing dangerous, nothing to mar our time together. There is just the slightest breeze. The sky is the most pleasant timeless blue imaginable.

The first to arrive is a girl about 8 years old. Her skin has a sage tint, the downshot of difficulties in breathing. She brings me worms, leftover from when she gathered a bunch for her sister’s birthday. For some reason she thought worms would make a good gift. She is a bundle of fears, although she is well-fed and well-loved. I just want to hold her while she breathes. I want to breathe for her.

Soon, the 17-year old comes upon us, all arms and legs and attitude. She is skittish, like a colt, just waiting to be hurt. It’s because Doug, her boyfriend, has just dumped her for the 4th time. Well, they’ve broken up 4 times, but she was the dumper at least once. I think about telling her there will be many more heartbreaks, and that she’ll have ample opportunity to be on both ends of them. Each one hurts, but when it’s all said and done, she’ll be thankful that she and Doug (and the many that follow him) parted. I’d tell her, but she wouldn’t believe me. She hands me her diary, the one she just started and intends to keep for the rest of her life.

The next young woman arrives in a black gown and mortarboard and with a gold cord dangling from collar to waist. You can feel the promise that fills her. She looks both ready to tackle and tame the world and also petrified of taking her next step. She will face rejection after rejection before she comes on a job with a meager paycheck that will fulfill her emotional, if not monetary, needs. She is planning a wedding, but is having thoughts of calling the whole thing off. The burden of this thought weighs down her shoulders. I whisper to her, “listen to your gut.” She looks at me hopefully and shows me the keys to her first apartment. Where she will live alone.

A very sad woman enters our circle. She’s in her 30s and she’s been crying, crying, crying. The losses she has endured have sucked the very life out of her. She has beautiful, glorious child-bearing hips, which are going to waste. Her dreams have evaporated. She feels alone (although, still well-loved) and without hope. We instinctively move toward her, trying to sense if she will allow us to comfort her. I barely recognize this woman — the toll has been so drastic. Can’t she see that this chapter, like all the others before, will end? Her hands hold only tissues full of tears.

The next woman to grace the clearing has graying hair, still long like I knew she would. She is weary — after all, she is raising teenagers. The one knows how to trip all her wires and the other is just growing up and away too quickly. She has a peace about her…the peace that comes from repeatedly being shown that this, too, shall pass. Her eyes pierce through me, chiding me for my petty complaints about the drains of childrearing. She has brought me a watch — one that ticks twice as fast as normal.

We turn to receive our final guest. She walks toward the west and is a few inches shorter than the rest of us grown women –still a head taller than the child. She is white-gray in hair, fissured of skin, and her eyes and lips have lost several shades of their original vibrancy. For all her physical feebleness, the corners of her mouth are upturned. Her eyes are kind, and she exudes patience. Like the sky above us, there is something timeless about her. She extends only her trembling hand, representative of the enduring body that houses her immortal spirit.

These are my Selves. They have come to honor the fact that I have been on the planet for another turn around the sun. They bring me their tokens and dreams and insights. I envelope them and am enveloped by them. One by one, I welcome each into my heart, accepting the gifts they have brought. I acknowledge the gift she is, she is, she is, she is, she is, she is.

I am.

Image: C Victor Posing Studios

29 thoughts on “Presence”

  1. That was so gorgeous. I have chills and goosebumps up both arms.Happy birthday? Or is it another anniversary of sorts? It is gorgeous nonetheless.

  2. That was stunningly written. I could see each woman in the circle as I read. Congratulations on another year… 🙂

  3. You–all several of you (and there are many more)–are a dear child, and you are a gift, a fabulous gift, your gift, her gift, my gift and our gift. Oh my goodness you have such a way with words and ideas. And then you go beyond, way beyond, to express thoughts and phrases never turned before. Oh for a handful of slimy, wiggly, squirmy earthworms, given to you and received from you. The worm has turned.

  4. I’m pleased as punch that I figured out this was various flavors of you just as I was arriving at the description of the 30 year old…that obviously told me I was spot on. This is a lovely and poignant way to see how you’ve grown and continue to grow. Happy Belated Birthday, my friend! I hope to meet one of your real life selves in the not too distant future. Cheers, PJ

  5. Tami — even though I never brought you worms, I hope you know how grateful I am that we are sisters. Mmmmmmmwah!

  6. Half of a lifetime later, I am lucky to be closer to you know that to the little girl with the worms. Thank you for being with me on this journey. I am the lucky one.

  7. This has to be my most favorite of all your posts! It’s absolutely beautiful: I’m sitting here crying because it touched my heart and feeling sad too that I missed your birthday. Sooo… happy belated birthday! 🙂(You are just such a good writer!!)

  8. A gorgeous moment, captured in a world called the internet and shared with all of us.Thankyou.Jo (from the Creme)

  9. Here from the Creme, also.Thank you – this was a beautiful post, one I will remember as I approach my 40th birthday this year.Happy upcoming birthday to you! I hope you get to visit with everyone again!

  10. Just amazing, Lori. I’m having the best kind of cry right now – the kind that comes when my heart is inspired by the deepest resonance. I’m so grateful for your voice and for your generosity in sharing your wisdom. May you have many more turns around the sun, and may your many selves continue to bless you with insight.

  11. What an incredibly beautiful post. I’m still at your 30’s stage, myself. But slowly breaking through that chapter and into a new one. Thanks for sharing this on Creme-De-La-Creme …

  12. Wow – just wow. This really resonates with me – particularly as I am struggling to come to terms with my “older” self. Surprisingly, being the older self who has already weathered through considerable emotional and physical battering is the one having the hardest time finding her steady ground amidst the amazing garden she spent those years building. Almost kind of a “now what?”You give me hope. Best wishes.<>Creme de la creme 2008<>

  13. Here from FiveStarFriday and will def be back! In fact, I think you’re going in my reader. Lovely writing; thanks for the gift.

  14. I’ve read this post before, and am thankful to return to it. It gave me chills then, as it does now. Recognizing our past selves’ gifts to our future selves … stunning. You are such a wise, beautiful woman, and I am grateful for the gift of your friendship and insight.

  15. Here from the future via Time Warp Tuesday and in awe of this post Lori. It may be my all-time favorite that I have ever read of yours. It is so moving and I am also pleased to share that I also suspected that the various females you described were versions of you are different stages of your life.


    “She has a peace about her…the peace that comes from repeatedly being shown that this, too, shall pass.”

    I am getting there after years of being bereaved and blessed.

    Thank you for the opportunity to read this post. Happy Birthday to you then and now and in the years to come! xoxo

  16. Beautiful. I’m so glad you re-shared this through Time Warp Tuesday or I might never have read it. Really, really lovely – I’m with Kathy – I think this may be my favorite of your posts. Full of wisdom as usual.

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