ebbs and flows
no wonder i turn to the waters rushing in along the sands to take my cues, to absorb the rhythms of the comings and the goings. unceasing, ever, and without apparent tussle, the pools come in and roll back out again.
the lessons always there, amid the geometry and the physics of the mysteries around me.
all i need do is become the student, absorb the holy text and the teaching that it offers.
once again, i have parted with the boy i love so dearly deeply. once again we have bid our goodbyes, whispered prayers for safe keeping and safe flight. we have felt the tears trickle down our cheeks, and our hearts pounding hard against our chests.
i watched my two sweet boys laugh and jive, in that way they do, one last time this morning. before the school bell rang, and it was time for the little one to throw his arms again around his big old brother, to swallow hard, to not pull away.
the little fella didn’t even notice how each one of us, we cried right along.
theirs was first among the litany of goodbyes. and, for the little guy, this was the true goodbye, the one in the sanctuary of the kitchen, all of us circled round him. not the hurried one in the schoolyard, when they’d dropped him off, and he’d try not to let on how much he’d miss the tall kid riding in the front seat.
once they’d headed off, once the door had closed, and the car had pulled away, a father-and-sons hurried ride to middle school, i stood in the quiet of this house, let the silence seep in, wash over me, the ebbs and flows of leaving, of going off.
it was preamble to the parting later in the morning, when the clock struck quarter past 11, and i slipped the keys off the hook. when i grabbed my backpack, felt my heart sink low, helped him with his bags, and loaded up the car one last time.
that boy won’t be home till summer.
but this time, this blessed time, i know that he is pulled by roots now deep, now lasting. he is thick with friends far off. they peppered him with messages for days. when you coming back? we can’t wait to see you. what time’s your plane? when you landing?
he is loved in a place i barely know. he is loved by friends i have never met. he is loved. and that is all that matters.
last night, as i was sleepy-eyed and headed up to bed, he looked at me and asked, “hey, mommo, wanna stay up and chat?”
who says no to the sweetest, finest invitation ever?
i did not say no.
we huddled under blankets — me, under red chenille on the chilly couch. him, under gray flannel on the red-checked armchair across the way.
for a good two hours, he told stories i’ve been waiting months to hear. i sopped up every one, a sponge in red-and-white-striped jammies.
we went to bed, at last, when my eyes were drooping closed. when i could not keep those eyelids up, at full-throttle attention, no matter how i tried.
no mind, though.
it made the leave-taking that much easier, knowing i have stories tucked inside my heart. knowing that i know now the landscape of his life, his loves, his laughs.
this now is the third goodbye, in what will be a lifelong string of such. i am starting to learn the rhythm, the ebb, the flow.
i now know, because i feel it, that somehow the boundaries of my heart have grown. it now encapsulates the many miles between my boy and me. i know that no miles wrench us apart. they just expand the connection.
i only learned that truth by living it, by breathing in and out the ebbs and flows, the comings and the goings.
but i might have understood it, figured it out, perhaps, if i’d wandered to the beach, paid close attention to what was being whispered there, in the rippling of the lake.
if i’d understood sooner that the paradigm was right before my eyes, etched forever in the sodden sands.
if i’d looked to the waters of this wise and ancient earth, if i’d watched how what flows out comes back again.
if i’d trusted what i saw, what the heavens long have known, long have whispered to the ones who listen.
only now, three times back and forth again, do i settle in to the rhythm, to the knowing that my boy, the boy i love so dearly deeply, he is never going off, just away and back again.
it’s a rhythm i can count on.
happy blessed new year, chair people. may the ebbs and flows of your days, your weeks, your months, be gentle and eternal….
bam, how glad I am to hear you had some of the blessed time you longed for, to sit and talk like you used to late into the night, just you two, hearing his heart. That a young man trusts his mother and wants to share with her in that way says a lot of both of you. May it be a balm to your heart this long span til next, which must feel like forever. xoxo
Oh dear BAM, I have a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and a heart that is pounding in my chest right now. I am nine days away from celebrating my 3rd wedding anniversary, to my best friend and companion in life and nine days away from that day where I will kiss my sweet little one in the morning and have 9-10 hours before I can kiss her once again. Oh how I need courage for this approaching day and I’m trying to soak in each moment in these next 9 days. I hope and pray that these next 9 days go by ever so slowly. I was amazed when her pediatrician told me that she grown over 4 inches and 4 pounds and I don’t think it’s possible to calculate how much my heart has enlarged in her first months of life. My greatest joy comes, when I come back to our bedroom, after the sun has risen, and sit next to her bassinet, watching her first stretches and listening to her grunts and sighs before she opens her eyes to greet the new day. Rarely if ever does she cry when she first wakes up, rather she searches for a face and loving eyes and then with abandon, smiles with all of her being. If I could only be the face that mirrors her smile and joy every time she awakes.Thanks for sharing how you live in this ebb and flow, this tide, this monsoon of maternal love. Just as Jan Richardson proclaims that the “moon is always full,” may the bond between you and your sweet boys, be full at high tide on the North Shore when you sit in your cozy den. May courage and strength be with you at low tide, when the miles are great between you and the boy who is bathed by the sun one hour earlier than us moms in Central Standard time, who wait for our sweet ones to awake to a new day
oh slj, i could write in echo and refrain to you for the rest of my life. you always spiral up, my beautiful friend……your poetry is keen, your observations holy. i love that we are at bookends, but in so many ways a similar, joined place. we are discovering, one inch at a time, this definition of motherhood. i picture you sitting beside that beautiful babe. i see the radiance on your face. i see her catching the glint and joining in. among the hardest days in my mothering were the days when my maternity leave were coming to a close and i was facing the return to work. i once said that the way i felt inside you’d think someone was sending me off on an ocean liner, across the globe, and i’d not see my babe for a year or years or something. i wound up getting to work no farther than the downstairs office for most of 14 or 15 years. i have been thinking of you and your return to those hospital halls, and those grief-stricken waiting rooms and corners. i know your grace is desperately needed in those places, and those hearts. but i think of your own heart, and i get stuck trying to imagine the ache that will be involved. i am right beside you on this journey. i wish i could solve the puzzle……..i do say, keep writing, beautiful friend. a mother can live and write, and be within arms’ reach of her babies. and i have worked only part-time since the day i went back to work as a mother…..if it’s an option, maybe it would strike a solid middleground…..
It’s funny … I didn’t think I’d ever get used to the idea of my eldest daughter not living here anymore (not just in my house, but in another state). I remember begging God to send her friends that could be stand-ins for her family and friends she left behind. It took me awhile, but each time I saw her and was reminded how she had made a new life of her own, it brought me comfort and even peace of mind.Your eldest son is a grounded, brilliant and mature young man. He’s a fine example to his young brother. One day, you’ll be doing the same for Teddy, so this is good practice, dear friend.Blessings for a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year with lots of e-mails and texts from #1 son in a faraway place. xoxox P. S. I am so excited that I can finally submit my comments again!
so eloquent and spot on as always.it’s a rhythm i can count on.i haven’t read a line that fulfilling in some time. i was just thinking about this the other day–this need to find the solace in chasing an 18 month old. i don’t want to wish away these moments, but they are labor intensive. so i’m trying to turn the never ending toy-picking-up-nose-wiping-dish-washing-same-book-over-and-over-again-reading into a rhythm, a mantra, a joyfully recited prayer. one to savor and not wish away so quickly (but boy, it would be great to have a dishwasher…). so thank you for confirming that the rhythm is there, in every stage. we just need to be mindful of it.