Last night I drove my daughter Sarah and her friend to an 18-and-older club in Worcester so they could dance to thumping music played by a DJ while the crew shot glow-in-the-dark paint from cannons into the crowd, splattering the dancers in streaks of washable color. That was part of her I-just-turned-18 experience!
They slept while I drove home. We arrived back in Ipswich at 2am (yawn). I crawled into bed. (Sarah showered first, to get all the paint off, but the inside of her ear was pink this morning, so she missed a spot.)
Later this morning we served her breakfast in bed. It’s a family tradition observed on birthdays and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. At this point it’s a “token” tray with coffee and a bite of something yummy on the plate, then we all reconvene downstairs at the dining room table for a civilized meal (unlike when the girls were younger and we all used to pile into bed together, making the antique tray slosh and tilt wildly, and attempted to host a sitting-on-each-other “breakfast picnic” in the bed with enough goodies for everyone to try a bite of everything on the plate(s), complete with crumbs, spills and family members sliding off the mattress).
And a while later today? I go up to the cemetery to meet with the director of the Parks & Cemeteries. We go to the gravesite, and review where we will place Jessie’s grave marker and inter her ashes. Discuss the date and the logistics. He’s patient and accommodating, and has children of his own. I’ve gone up there at least 3 times in the past few years to ask the same questions, and he goes through this exercise with me every time. But this time it’s real: we’re ordering her stone and making arrangements for its delivery and installation. Finally, finally, we’re trying to provide some closure to this part of saying good-bye to Jessie, before the extended out-of-town family arrives for their next visit or Sarah leaves home for college.
We’re launching one child – Sarah — into the world as an 18-year-old with a to-do list of grownup activities (see yesterday’s post). She’s filled with potent dreams of her adulthood as a college student and then as a nurse.
Our younger daughter Jessie has been released to “whatever comes next” in the life beyond death. A few summers ago, we spread her ashes in the sky over the ocean. Now we will settle some closer to home …
Both girls continue their journeys. Over time, as all parents do, we’ve had to let each of them both go, again and again. Yet these releases have occurred in such different ways. Meanwhile, as parents and partners we travel our own paths, too.
Fly, girls, fly!