How can it be possible to cut out a part of me and send her to a corner of this wide country that I have never seen?
Her dear warm body, which I know so well and hugged too tight, covered with too many kisses, is now high above trees and lakes rose-gilded by a summer sunrise. My body is no longer with hers but still holding her inside me, not as I did for nine months now fourteen gifted years ago, but as I always will, wherever she travels. For she is part of me, and yet she is not me, and I am not her, and she must walk her own paths and live her own wild and precious life, feel her own pain, make her own mistakes.
In morning’s cold embrace, watched by a waning crescent that she exclaimed over as we stumbled from the motel laden with bags and too little sleep, I remember when we first left her at preschool and grieved to no longer know what she was doing at each moment. She was three and it was only for a morning. But already her life was unfurling without us, as in fact it always has in her secret depths, however close or far we may be.
Now I return to the motel to sleep a little more, inadvertently getting into her side of the bed we just shared, and happy for the memory of her face on the pillow beside me. Her features, blurred by semi-darkness, could have been her three-year-old face still with toddler roundness and framed by scant curls, or that of the woman she will become and whose shape I don’t yet know.
It is hard to fathom this love, so profoundly flawed and yet so impossibly deep, which when it tries too hard to hold on and protect becomes something other than love. Though I want to keep her close forever and be the one to always watch over her, she must grow into her future shape through who knows what solitary joys and challenges. And I must trust her to herself, and to God, and to others, and to life itself.
All of me is prayer for her flourishing – my body, its ache, its tears, its tiredness, its lying down, its letting go.