On a muggy afternoon, my daughters and I swim in a cold New Hampshire mountain stream with my brother’s girlfriend. She suggests going to the ocean the following day. I see my younger daughter’s eyes — the quiet girl — gleam with love of ocean.
While I drive that familiar way back over the mountains back to Vermont and back to work, the girls and my brother and his girlfriend head the opposite way, east, to the sea. Later that evening, I read Louise Erdrich while the cats sprawl on the windowsill, watching a pouring rainstorm. In my garden, the sunflowers stretch far above my head, not yet blooming, their golden faces not yet opened up to the world.
The Erdrich book is her memoir of early motherhood. Watching the rain with the cats, I imagine my 13-year-old when she was three, picking colorful bouquets of zinnias in my garden for her two best friends.
At 13, wearing sunglasses and jean shorts, she’s so often savvier than I give her credit for, happily stepping into a wider world.
… with each celebration of maturity there is the pang of loss. This is our human problem… how to let go while holding tight, how to simultaneously cherish the closeness and intricacy of the bond while at the same time letting out the raveling string, the red yarn that ties our hearts.
— Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance