Monday, August 4, 2014

Becoming More Human

Today Isabella experiences her first real goodbye. Soon, she starts school, but before moving to this adventure of learning, she and I both have to say goodbye to three years of enjoying a little home daycare run by Julia, a family friend, and say goodbye to the routine of seeing her little friends there and the more spontaneous life of early childhood, the more free-form aspects of everyday play and flexible schedule.  I am sorrowing over this, fully aware at how life will change, balking a bit at adjusting to those changes, but mostly wistful for my daughter’s smallness slowly but surely changing.

The trouble is transition, endings and beginnings. Observing how my daughter will experience these. I feel a momentum--and it would seem in all aspects of my life I am finding the need to become vulnerable, to trust, and to see that learning and growing anew is the only way to reconcile my need for reviewing the past, living in the present, and moving forward.  Why should it surprise me that I have fears and trepidations, that this should remind me of the many transitions I have experienced and continue to--and all the ways as an adult I have avoided the pains of letting go?

As adults, of course, we understand the cost of letting certain types of things go: dreams and ambitions, plans, even those beloved to us.  Children don’t quite get the levels of goodbye we fear, and perhaps mercifully so.  The lessons of life come through these moments, and too many of them crowd the adult heart; maybe that’s why we so enjoy our children, witnessing their little moments, imparting point of view for them, softening the blow of the harsher realities.  We can’t completely protect them from harm and worry, and knowing how that feels is what makes transition so difficult, and what makes mastering it with patience and faith the most important stuff of life.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen the many pictures from this summer, especially the ones of my visit with my aunts--my father’s sisters--who came from Portugal nearly 30 years since the last visit.  It was landmark and joyful to get to know, again, their wonderful sense of humor, and be surprised in the ways I am like them in heart and soul--the kind of thing most people take for granted if they live near their families.  I have never taken that for granted--goodbye has always been ready on my lips, letting go a solid fact of life--yet, these things are still hard knocks for me.  The time between the hello and the goodbye has become the most  precious part.  Then comes the time for dealing with what the Portuguese call  saudade:  a longing for the way things once were, a nostalgia lived.  Not wallowing, per se--just recognizing that with memory comes both joy and sorrow, and valuing each equally is ultimately what makes us who we are, straddling that awkward space between knowing and becoming, adding yet another memory for longing.  That longing is the deepest mark of humanity, and I become more and more human each day.