I post this, as I have posted others, because one day I will be attending their high school graduations. And I will want to look back on this beautiful, glorious, independence-blossoming, confidence-bearing morning.
Here’s to my bloomers.
I cuddle in bed with Tessa and do to her what I love having done to me: I stroke her hair as she falls asleep. I caress her brow ridge. I line the contour of her ear. Such intimate gestures occur with only a few very special people in one’s lifetime.
As I marvel at her beautifully full cheeks and peaceful expression, I get lost. Yup, I do the time-travel thing again.
Dwelling in my heart are aches from the past week. It has been filled with mother-sadness, first about my mother-in-law’s prognosis, and then with the death of my good friend’s mom (my friend was able to be at her side. As I write, the burial is taking place. I have been with my friend in spirit all week, many states away).
So with heavy heart but light spirit, I move into the place where time and space become fluid. I feel myself old. Like 90 years old. Resting, weary…
I feel my grown daughter’s hands stroking my hair, caressing my brow ridge, lining the contour of my ear. She has such love in her eyes for me. Older now than I was on that night so long ago. Tessa is fully independent and capable of going on in spite of the deep loss my eventual death will bring her. I have lived a good life; I have done well at the important things.
In an instant, I came back to now. Insha’llah, I get to live 40ish more years. I get to love, stroke, caress, hug, enjoy, endure, witness, feel, experience all that my life is and will be.
The thought wows me.
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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.