On Tuesday I hiked along the reservoir shore with my children. I lay in the sand while they surrounded me with driftwood, became a sculpture: Mother at Rest. We found the bleached exoskeleton of a crayfish, and watched a snake curl up at the base of a tree. The loons bobbed on the waves in the distance, little more than black marks in the open water. The summer light had already broken, changed in the way that tells us to prepare, prepare, the leaves will fall, the snow will come.
It’s all so short, isn’t it?
On Wednesday I sent my son away with four other boys, two men, for five days of wilderness. Today it’s been raining on and off, and somewhere my boy has made himself a space in the woods, is warming himself by his own fire, preparing for this night, the one he will spend completely alone. Before he left, we looked each other in the eye, me looking up, because my little boy is now inches taller than I am, and what I saw was this, a boy who is less and less a boy, who needed me to see that he is straddling two worlds right now–one of driftwood sculptures and one of tending his own campsite through the night–and to begin to let go.
It is tempting to hold on too tight, to try to keep things unchanged. Stay, I long to say, stay small, stay safe, stay by my side. But we’re made to grow. As much as we seem hellbent on stasis, as much as we put all our energy into refusing change–of bodies, of hearts, of minds–we are made to grow, to learn, to evolve, right up until the end. To deny that is to bring about our own ruin.
The light changes. So do we. So does everything. Instead of stay, I say go, I will be here when you come back, to hear your stories, to help you ready for your next step away. I will try to make this world a better place to go out into, and I will try help you learn to stay open, to hear, to carry compassion with you, to know that laughter doesn’t stay, but neither does tears.
Go. Be bold. Be brave. You are loved.