Saturday, May 19, 2012

Almost There

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.


  1. Congratulations to Marissa and to her supportive and loving family! What a precious photo this is.

  2. This is a difficult time of year, indeed, as I struggle with what feels like a failure of parenting, and deal with the impact of my son's recurring illness. I think, if he had cancer I could talk about it, but he has a mental illness and a tendency to prefer to self-medicate rather than be med compliant with what the doctor and psych prescribe. I too have a successful lovely daughter, who lives a fragile life. I wonder how it is that I can two very different children despite similar parenting?

    Lovely photo of your daughter - I imagine she will be fabulous in her profession - social work?

    1. Terri, because of the events in our own family and our friends', Marissa and I have spent a lot of time the past few weeks talking about the stigma of mental illness. (You notice how I try to be discreet about identities here?)

      A few years ago, a friend bewailed the fact that, shortly after one of her children got into terrible difficulties, a colleague's child was admitted to an Ivy and another colleague exclaimed, "The apple doesn't fall far!" "Then what kind of tree am I?" she muttered.

    2. exactly. The thing is I know that my husband and I are much better parents than my mother and father ever were. And yet my son has fallen into a similar life situation that my brothers faced, and the men in my husband's family - it seems that what ever the proclivity it follows the male gene. Thankfully my brothers out grew it, I have hope that my son also mature...but, then one never really knows. And, at his age I have very little control over his choices.

  3. Prayers and blessings for your daughter as she graduates from grad school.

  4. What a beautiful photo of Marissa! There is a deep spiritual quality in her innocent expression. God bless you as you and your family enjoy her graduation.

  5. Certainly you deserve to savor this happy moment. Your girl is beautiful and her achievement is spectacular. Happy day to you all.

  6. Savor away. And I love the new look of your page, too!

  7. I love this photo, and I love that you and she have each other to reflect such deep love.

    What a bit of joy to light up my computer!