I posted this picture three years ago, as The Lovely Daughter was about to graduate from college. Tomorrow, it will be grad school.
In the photo, she is almost seven, sitting on the porch steps of our Chautauqua rooming house with a friend she has made there and gotten to spend time with each summer. They run around playing, eat ice cream, and splash in the lake. It seems that she lives a charmed life.
As it turns out, she doesn't. Not in the way that I had hoped for her, anyway. But she has shown a remarkable capacity to move forward through sorrow, to be present to her family and friends and extend love to us, to embrace others without judgment ~ and to love cats.
I take nothing for granted. Among my friends are two whose daughters are struggling mightily with inner demons and two who have died, one after an extended illness and one in a terrible accident. All of them beautiful and beloved girls.
This is a tough time of year. As parents post graduation pictures online, friends offer congratulations and laud brilliant mothering and accomplished children.
If only the cause-and-effect factors were so straightforward.
I am unspeakably proud of my own beautiful girl. But I know the fragility of these successes, and that nothing is guaranteed us.
I am savoring this moment.