Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes We Float Over the Bridge Instead of Under it.

It has been said that time waits for no man. While I have dithered over how to express the conflicting emotions that have buried me over the past weeks, time quietly carried me away with her. Earlier this year I recognized this passage and had resolved to be more “care-full” of the moments given me. But I blew it. I found myself floating in what I can only describe as unreality. I, who had so firmly resolved to walk, head high, eyes bright, into this transition, had what I can only describe as a few weeks of floating unreality. I think the fluidity helped.

Perhaps it was my way of dealing with way too much at once; feelings so joyous and so mixed with the loss experienced in the midst of great change: my son's wedding. My daughter, my youngest, leaving for college. My son and new daughter-in-law's departure on his Fulbright for the Republic of Georgia. One minute I was on the highest point of the bridge looking at the best parts of life. The next moment I hadn't just crossed this bridge, but began to suspect that demolition crew was working overtime behind me.

Our house went from bursting at the seams....with activity and teens and 20-somethings, backpacking trips, summer jobs and wedding preparations, arriving guests, welcome parties and mountains of frosting and cakes as I fulfilled my commitment to the wedding couple to create their wedding cakes (yes, plural, but too complicated a story to get into when one has been floating) empty. The only sane thing to do was to float.

Time – or the passing of it-- is sometimes compared to rivers, oceans or to water over the dam. We admonish people attempting to “hold back the flood” to “go with the flow.” Those objecting to change are advised “don't rock the boat” and to deal with today's turmoil by “getting past the rapids before regrouping.” The more I think about it, I think I may have floated under the bridge instead of getting out of the flow, crawling up the grassy bank and trudging over the bridge. I honestly wanted to stand there at the highest arch of this summer's bridge, stomp my feet and shot out loud “not so fast....I'm not ready!” at the top of my lungs.

But shouting at a thing rarely stops it from happening, with the exception of what it can do to the child poised to carry the black water colors down the newly carpeted, peach-colored stairway. Bitter experience taught me that the child will stop, but that the paints and water won't and then there is a heck of a mess to clean up. And shouting this time would have masked the very real joy I felt in seeing my children – these wonderful, talented, accomplished young people -- move across their own bridges.

As any person knows who suddenly becomes tired after treading water for too long or attempting to swim across a lake, some times it helps to just roll over and float on our backs. And you know, when I stopped struggling, I passed right under that bridge and looked up. Beyond its dark, cool arch, I glimpsed concerts and recitations, soccer fields, far-away beaches and mountain peaks, lost teeth and swimming pools, first loves and disappointments, but triumphs too. Shared memories of Gothic cathedrals and family reunions, graduation stages and wedding days – all mirrored in the love in the eyes of my children as they turned toward their future.

Floating there, I am in the company of a few golden, drifting leaves. Just a few.

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