Alone at last, I settle in to listen to the birds and watch the sky. The dog lays merrily masticating beside me on the grass. Wearing the black boots of winter and my purple parka, I can pretend it’s May instead of March, 60 instead of 40. Everything hurts and I’m not sure why. But it’s a gleeful pain, a tender suffering.
I tease myself awake. Last night, Christopher and I kept snuggling into each other’s arms and then drifting back to sleep. I have been nervous about this visit with my daughter, Hannah. She stormed away after a big fight at Christmas time and didn’t speak to me for three days. I thought I’d die.
Thict Nhat Hanh writes in “Power,” that understanding precedes love. If I don’t understand my daughter, he writes, I cannot truly love her. He invites us to practice bodhicitta, beginners mind, where we listen deeply and try to understand others with the goal of transforming and lifting our own suffering and theirs as well.
I also recently read Kika Dorsey’s terrific short story about a mom who starts sniffing glue after she becomes convinced her teenage children are onto the stuff. I always feel better when I realize I’m not the only one who finds parenting a challenge.
I feel peace now hiding in my backyard away from all others. My soul expands out and can breathe at last. Big sunglasses shield me from the sun’s harmful rays. I’m bone tired, shocked, grateful to my toes. My heart swells for this gentle and emerging peace with my daughter.
It is so nice to sit here. It’s been a big expansive ride. I haven’t known who I am or where I’m going. The me I’ve thought was me disappears ever more in this strange, awe-inspiring present that makes no sense and the only kind of sense. Thank you.
I go in and Christopher asks to show me something. I defer, pour water into my carafe of sport tea, emerge back outside, shaking. I wanted to scream “No, you can’t fucking show me something right now. I’m really enjoying writing.” What’s hard for me is to know it’s okay for me to feel this way, and to say no. When Christopher’s songwriting he wouldn’t interrupt it for anything trivial. But do you know how rebellious this is, for me as a woman, to claim this rest time? It makes me respect my rebellious, courageous daughter more than I ever have. To feel all the pressure from me and from the people around her to do, do, do and somehow manage to love doing nothing and be able to savor it. How was she able to find her bliss in this? What wild love. And I’m just now understanding this about her. My knees buckle. Thank you, Hannah. You rock.
The sun warms my legs in my black jeans. “Let her go. She will go much farther than you. She will go beyond you.” This is what the Godddess told me about Hannah during a recent ceremony my friend MJoy did honoring the crone, the seed of all life. I realized it’s true, but then another wave of wild grief flowed through me, culling chaff to create space for me to actually let my baby go. My mom, who’s now silver haired and 71, midwifed me through this death process with great compassion over the phone.
And now Hannah alights home for a couple of days. In the warm sunshine yesterday, we built my kit-ordered raised garden bed and talked about her life over tea. My cup runneth over.
A flock of birds shutters across in the distant sky. The miracle of life beats in my chest with the same flurry as when I was a child laying on my back watching the clouds pass overhead. I feel grateful to have found again an unfolding present.
There was only ever this interwoven sky.