The Beginning and The End

'17 Flower Assembly-38.jpgI cried last Friday. It started with that choked up feeling in my throat. That feeling that I know will soon spill over from eyes and down my cheeks. Dabbing away those first few tears, throat sore and swelling, I hid behind my camera as she knelt to the kindergartner that was handing her a flower. By the time the girls were singing the Alma Mater tears were rushing like a spring waterfall and I could see that many of the seniors also felt overwhelming emotions with graduation on the horizon.

I remember the trepidation Hannah felt when she went to Laurel School for the first time those many years ago. But last Friday I could feel her excitement as she got into her uniform for the last time. Over the years, she has loved every Laurel School tradition that has grounded her in this amazing community. Last Friday’s tradition is the one that marks the beginning and the end. This ritual is so special as each kindergarten girl is invited to give a single flower to each senior girl on her last day of classes, thus launching each generation into a new and exciting chapter in their lives.

But this is also a beginning and an end for me. It is time for me to define myself as more than just a parent. I’ve started to look for myself in the mirror again and I’ve been easing myself into periods of uninterrupted leisure. For Mark and me, it is a beginning that we never had. We have only known each other with children around and I relish the thought of getting to know him as if we were young and carefree. Our dreams of travel are getting bigger and grander as we peruse the guidebooks.

On the other hand, after a full 30 years of raising children, my baby is about to launch (throat swelling starts here.) My time will no longer be dictated by “who has to be where” and “what do we have to eat?” I am not young and certainly not carefree and when I look in the mirror I make sure the lights are soft and dim. One more child is entering the big bad world of adulthood and she will ride the roller-coaster of life mostly on her own for a while, hopefully confident in the knowledge that mom will always have her arms out to catch her.

I cried this morning and I choke up almost daily. I think I’ll go buy myself a flower.

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Night on the Beach

The sun was sinking beyond the horizon as we sat on the beach to watch. The colors were muted, hazy, dreamy, glowing orange and yellow.  The sand was warm yet cooling as the time slowly slipped by. We were nervous at first, sneaking glances at one another, not sure where the conversation would lead. There were probably others on the beach taking their evening strolls, but for us, it was our secret kingdom. The vast beach was our own personal dominion with the wonders of the ocean waves and endless views helping to calm our minds as we settled into boundless and broad conversations. We talked and laughed, told stories about ourselves and revealed our truths.

images.jpegWe decided to build a sand castle and though it certainly wasn’t a showy place, it was a fortress. Strong, yet vulnerable. Plain, yet quirky. The sand castle we built held our thoughts and dreams. We dreamed of travel to lands afar, we told of battles won and lost and adventures still ahead. The tide rolled toward the moat, filling it, wearing it down and sometimes breaking a wall, but we rebuilt it, several times that night.

The night grew dark yet the breeze was still warm. I stretched out on the sand feeling its warmth on my face as I drifted off to dream of Kings and Queens, dragons and fairies.

I woke to start a new life with this man. In the sunshine of a new day we knew that we would build our castle, our fortress in the real world. Always our oasis in the storms of life, sometimes our castle needs a bit of reinforcement and fortification, but ours together – always.

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