My youngest daughter is a fashion diva. From the time she could toddle, she was digging deep into the dress-up box putting together the most fabulous and outrageous outfits. I remember my neighbor calling me once to let me know that my little lady had just sprinted past her back window in a tutu, her boa fluttering in the wind. Once she got to pre-school her signature fashion statement was wearing stockings of every design and stripe. She adored those crazy things, and I loved seeing her in them. But as she got older and taller that whole look became more and more of a stretch to pull off….quite literally. We would yank and tug, but that rubber waistband was reaching lower and lower on her little tummy. As much as we didn’t want to admit it, the time had come to give up the colorful leg wear. This is going to sound silly, but I can still see myself sitting on the pink carpet in her bedroom, crying into her dinosaur tights right before I put them, and all of the others, into the bag for Goodwill. Those precious little girl years had slipped away. Her empty sock drawer was the manifestation of that transition.
That was just one of many moments over the past fifty two years when I found myself keenly aware that I was moving out of one phase of life and into another. It was just last year that I was bracing myself to absorb another sea-change. My eldest daughter and son had both lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for about four years. One was a student at UVA and one was working at the University’s hospital. If you have never been to this area, you really should go. The country side is breathtaking, the city is quaint and the vineyards are nothing short of a heavenly bonus. Being able to visit two of my children in one beautiful location was a blessing of immeasurable worth. We grew to love this area and our stays were always filled with so much excitement and joy. All that ended last summer when my daughter, my son and his beautiful, new bride packed up their belongings and relocated to different states. My husband and I awoke on the last day of our last visit, said goodbye to everyone, and decided to tour one last vineyard before taking to the freeway for the long drive home. It was a cold and drizzly morning with a blanket of thick fog laying low across the rolling hills. My heart was heavy as we strolled through the lush landscape because I knew we might never be back. Our kids were what connected us to this special place and with them no longer there, it just wouldn’t feel the same.
And so it goes..You close old chapters and begin new ones. Sadness and healing, transition and adjustment- over and over..it’s just the way it is.
As I sit here today struggling against the tide of grief that keeps washing over me, I realize that I am mourning more than the just passing of my dear old dog. My kids were 3, 8, 11 and 14 when I brought that little guy home. He was the one constant in a decade and a half of unrelenting growth and constant change. He was a tangible connection to my life’s most vibrant chapter, a thin thread that somehow kept me tethered to this sweet spot in time .. until 2 days ago, when the spool quietly ran out.
But again, that’s the way life is, isn’t it? Everything keeps evolving, the pages keep turning, and I swear..as hard as it can be at times, I wouldn’t want it any other way.