It began at birth, really. Even while I held my baby girl in my arms for the first time, while the scent of her was becoming an imprint in my brain and tiny tendrils inextricably wound themselves round my heart, the dance of separation had already begun.
A push and a cry and a snip of a cord were the first steps.
Over the next few years we cheered her on as she learned her own peculiar military style of crawling, then took her first steps. We video taped her telling stories at her second birthday party. She learned to feed herself; dress herself. She spent an hour away from us. Then a night. Then several days at Mammaw’s house in the summer. And I cried as we drove away. This crazy mix of pride, and joy, and loss.
And she learned, and grew, and thrived.
We wrote wonderful stories with those years. Travels and explores. Slumber parties, butterfly gardens, secrets, friends. She took photographs and wrote poems and learned to cook, and bit by bit the young woman she was made to be revealed itself.
And she was lovely.
There were growing pains. All of us figuring out how to walk in new seasons. Conflict. Anger. Tears.
But from that, a deep knowing. An understanding stamped on all our hearts of what it means to love one another relentlessly. To fail one another. To forgive.
She finished high school. She got a job. Or two. She bought her own clothes, did her own laundry, dreamed her own dreams. She collected classic films, artisanal teas, and gourmet cooking implements. She cooked us some fantastic meals.
And then, my baby girl had a baby girl of her own. And she grew some more. We watched her love this little one fiercely. We saw her make sacrifices. We saw her rise before the sun, work hard, spend wisely and save. She was driven to make a good life for her daughter.
Today, Kelsey is buying a home. And over the next few days, she will move all her belongings out of our house. And she will wake up somewhere else. And I have never been more proud of her. Never.
And my heart hurts.
Just a little.
I help her pack things up. She hums like she always does when she is happy. And this is so right. And I would not wish it other for a minute. But our family as it has been for a very long time will be no more. And I am grieving that.
And thinking about birds. Who do this every year. And giving thanks that I only have three.
Incidentally, Jake is going with her. As, of course, is Kenzie. So our household of six is becoming a household of three.
Godspeed, dear ones. Fly far and true. I love you. Always.
“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven…
He hath made everything beautiful in its time.”
*Painting by Cari Humphry