As in, unfurled, spilling over, like an entire box of tiny ball bearings that've been released all at once. Hundreds of memories and hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows scattering in every direction, bouncing from table to floor with a percussive cadence that sounds impossible to understand.
My baby left again today.
If my tears were solely about her departure, it'd be silly, really, because Anna is a grown woman -- 28 years old. And she's so very wise and capable. I am happy that she's courageous enough to follow her heart and move back to Nashville so she can be with her people. Her music people. She has given convention the slip again and chosen the path that comes with no road maps or guarantees. That's how I raised her. But this afternoon I'm a very proud mother blubbering her way through a box of Kleenex. Even though I'm sending her off with a heart full of admiration and hope, I will miss her terribly. My daughters are my best friends.
I'm sure there are other things contributing to my waterworks. This morning my oldest daughter sent me a TimeHop video of my two oldest granddaughters when they were babies. I couldn't see her face but I could hear my mother's voice laughing and talking to her great-granddaughters. She's been dead nearly six years. The baby on the ottoman, now in second grade, is a brilliant little beauty with cascading red curls. She is fluent in Spanish. The diapered toddler has grown into a stunning, brown-eyed adventurer, flying on a trapeze, going rock climbing and hanging with monkeys and gators in Central America. Life goes on.
The tick-tock has picked up speed and increased its volume. Or maybe it's just that I'm finally paying attention.
Over the last 12 years I've said goodbye to a 25 year marriage and the obliteration of our family as we all knew it. Due to circumstances out of my control I found myself in bankruptcy court and in the middle of foreclosure proceedings. I've moved five times. I've seen both of my parents through cancer; my mom didn't make it. My dad triumphed over his, but several years later succumbed to multiple mental and physical health problems that required a crushing load of care. I spent three long years walking him through his last years on earth, and it may have been the hardest thing I've ever done. I've helped my children bury their their father, even though it was extremely painful for me to do so. In the last 12 years I've fractured my ankle (twice), been diagnosed with two autoimmune illnesses, and had back surgery earlier this year.
But there've been a lot of positives, too. I forged a new career at 44, started two businesses, and earned a college degree at 48. I am happily remarried. I have three beautiful granddaughters. I have found a sister and brother I never knew, both of whom have enriched my life exponentially. I have a lovely new home in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of a hometown that has ceased to feel like home anymore. I have a loving spouse, great friends, a wonderful family, and a comfortable life.
Today I'm feeling the weight of sadness that accompanies goodbyes. Though I've emerged as best I could from what's felt like an avalanche of loss, I suspect I'm still carrying a load of grief that wants its day in the sun. As I watched Anna drive off today, I felt the dam cracking and breaking open a little bit more.