Friday, August 9, 2013

The golden one...

 When I was a little girl, my mother put my hair up in curlers every single time it was washed. Every single time! She pulled and yanked and pulled my wispy, baby-fine hair around wire curlers, pushed pink sticks with knobs on the top through each one to hold them in place and I learned not to make a sound. I knew better. I knew whining and complaining wouldn't stop the pain and would make my mother annoyed. So I held still. When she got to the last curler, right at the bottom of my neck, she always said, "This is the golden one."

I knew what 'golden' meant in those days. Just as if it was an actual synonym in the Oxford Dictionary, it meant "Last." And it still means that to me. So this morning, when Steph came out of her room and sat down on the living room couch, I told her, "Today is the golden one." She smiled. Because she's my daughter and had her hair done under my comb and fingers many, many times as child, she knows exactly what that means (though I didn't curl my daughters' naturally strong and wavy hair--I braided it!).

The golden one. The last one.

All week long our back room has been a staging area for SK's belongings. She's taken bags and bags of clothing to Goodwill and consignment shops, divided household goods, sorted jewelry, coats, shoes, make-up. She's said goodbye to friends at every kind of meal you can imagine--breakfast, coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, potlucks, dessert. By her own estimation, she doesn't have a large community here, but you wouldn't know it by her social calendar this week. She answers question after question about her new life--many of which are unanswerable. "How long do you think you'll stay down there?" "Do you think you'll ever move back to Bellingham?"

Through it all, she's maintained confidence that this is right, that she's excited, that God is in this. I love that about her. I love the strong sense that she goes with God, that He's ahead of her. It makes my own natural sadness easier to bear. I can let her go because He goes ahead of her.

But it's the golden one. The last day. Beve asked me yesterday how I was feeling, and I told him that it's always a really strange feeling when our kids leave. They're so present in our house up until the very second they get into their cars and drive away. Then I face the absence. Right now, she's just naturally here. Playing and cuddling with the dogs, watching TV as she sorts her belongings, laughing as she reads facebook updates. I can't imagine her absence yet.

But what I also feel is that this whole last year has been the golden one. SK left home to go to college at 18. Even after she graduated, she didn't come home. But last summer, she moved home and worked for a year. It's been a boon having her (just as it was having her older sister for the season E was home after college). Unexpected but a joy. Yes, a boon. And now she leaves again. I'm reminded of a poem I read (but didn't write) at my high school Baccalaureate (I was chosen to speak by virtue of NOT being present at the meeting when the speakers were chosen!).  This poem is slightly off, since, obviously, I'll always know (and adore) my baby, but part of it rings true on this golden day with her!

"Let me not know you for a day
and leave you with regret,
let me, instead, thank the Lord,
that on His home we met.
Let me not understand you
for a fleeting instant,
then look back and sigh,
knowing we can't capture it again,
Let me, instead, be thankful for
the time we shared,
the time we had.
Then let me go with the Lord,
too thankful to be sad."
SK with Beve and Grampie,
at dinner last night!

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