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If Only

I have come to realize, that I hate goodbyes more than I ever realized. I don’t even like to use the word hate, but I can say with certainty that I hate them. My life, up until quite recently, has felt like a whirlwind. A beautiful, purposeful, messy, glorious, whirlwind. I thought it would go on like that forever to be perfectly honest, not that I thought of it so deeply, because who had the time to have such deeply contemplative thoughts with four little ones running around. The truth is that life did feel suspended in time for so many years. I felt eternally young, busy, and deeply present in the life we created. Having young children does that. Every day is a first when our children are young. The existence with them is so physical. Literally hands on everything, and hands all over me at all times. Then, poof, it ends, hard stop. Not only does it end, but there is a feeling of being left behind that happens, especially if your life has been solely dedicated to the details of your children’s existence. My life has surely been dedicated to the existence, maintenance, worry, support, and rule of my little people. I just wasn’t expecting the hard stop to be so abrupt.

I know in theory that human existence is really a series of letting go. I moved forward bravely into new frontiers as a young woman pretty easily. The change was not my enemy, I welcomed it. Today, as I watch my own young adults move towards their frontiers of choice without me, it feels terrifying. I trust them, I encourage them, and I want them to move forward. I just wasn’t prepared for how fast it all goes. I’m left with feelings of “if only…” If only I held them more closely, if only I listened to their long stories more carefully, if only I carried them in my arms longer… the “if only’s” are so abundant at this crossroad.

For those of you that find relevance in this strange, but very real heartbreak, this is how I cope. I don’t. I feel it big. I miss the little children of mine at every age, every day, realizing that the missing is just an expression of my deep love and regard for the experience of mothering them at every stage of their evolution. I realize that saying goodbye is really damn hard, but it’s how true love goes. I also recognize that I miss the woman that I was in all of those incarnations. What a beautiful experience to look at oneself with acceptance and love instead of criticism.

I am moving into a phase of life that is able to recognize all of this with more love, more laughter, less judgment, and more openness than I was able to in the past. Somehow feeling it all makes it a bit more manageable.

Still, I would give just about anything to live out just one more “if only…”

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