Can I write happy? I don't know that I can. Everything that I've ever written and been proud of came from intense sadness, overwhelming disappointment, or terrifying despair. How can anything other than rich evocative relatable language emerge from those places?
But this? Such unfamiliar bliss. Such unexpected contentment. It is only mid-morning and my heart is already full of an entire day's quota of happiness. Already I've felt an embarrassment of riches. I've been the focus of a man's love and the focus of a dog's adoring stare. I've enjoyed breakfast in the company of a good book, and now I drink coffee with cream and sit beside a fire...its mellow flames rising to the same height as the snow that sits on my patio furniture outside.
My daughter is asleep upstairs, so I am alone without the sadness of actually being alone. She will come down eventually and take care of herself as adult children do. She won't need me as she once did. She will not insist on the morning rituals of old...but she will be glad to see me. And I will be glad for another morning in which to wake up in the same house. Our days together are numbered now, but that is as it should be -- the circle of life. Children grow up. Parents grow old.
Perhaps it is that looming loss that makes this moment all the more precious. I know that I am blessed. I know that this is a golden time. Poised between two epochs, two chapters. Motherhood and marriage.
They were meant to be coeval I realize -- meant to run alongside one another. Marriage to the one who co-parents your child. Marriage to the one who laments, with equal passion, a shared child's growing up and leaving home. But that has not been my life's story. My marriage will follow my daughter's leaving. I will trade one (im)perfect happiness for another.
For my own reasons, I've decided that one chapter cannot begin until the previous one closes. I will not allow them to overlap again. One has demanded my all for 22 years. The other will require my all for all of the years ahead of me. Motherhood, I took to like a fish to water. Marriage I've not been able to do well. It began each time, feeling like the purest and most natural of undertakings and then somehow I'd lose track of myself. And end up angry and sad. For too many years, I believed I was uniquely flawed, defective -- at the very least in my ability to choose wisely. But maturity and political awareness have enabled me to see my story in the larger context of shifting paradigms, gender politics and brokenness.
And so, at this moment, I am between chapters. Enjoying the security of both, but also the absence of tension between them, the privilege of standing for a time with a foot in both storylines -- my identity as a mother having transitioned into that of a housemate but with the emotional benefits of two decades of shared memories; and my identity as the wife of a good man having not yet begun, but with glimpses of how pleasant it will be to write new stories and make new memories with new characters and settings. I am glad for my daughter that she can move forward with her life happily and without regret, knowing that I have a new beginning to get underway.
This is a moment I will ask God if I can have back at the end of my life. I will ask if this can be my heaven: a moment from which I can make an eternity. A time of seeing across the expanse of my life backward and forward and seeing only good will, and believing only good intentions.
A partner, a warm house, a sleeping child, winter outside my window, a fire, a dog, coffee with cream -- can I take this all in? Can I experience this contentment as a cleansing healing wave? I am going to try.