*Today is my 37th birthday.
A week ago I found myself at the kitchen sink crying. A confused, emotional pain had hit me in the chest. I could hear my daughter in her bedroom singing some mundane pop song in that saccharine voice only a father could love. She had, shortly before this, kicked me out. Don’t get me wrong. She was polite about it and would have willingly suffered my presence. But a man who pays attention can tell when a woman doesn’t want him around, even when that woman is his nine-year-old daughter, or rather, especially. My son, almost 12, was at his grandma’s house when this occurred. I hadn’t seen him and had hardly talked to him in five days.
My children, it seems, are drifting away. But ‘drifting’ isn’t the right word, is it? They are flying away as though they’re sprouting leathery bat wings and hankering for the blood of life. Which, in a way, they are.
Hold on now. This isn’t going to be one of those sappy posts about how my kids are growing up and I am growing old. Stay with me.
What made me cry as I rinsed a small cup that used to hold more juice than either child could drink, but now, overflowing, could hold little more than one gulp each, was knowing what’s in store for them.
My tears were of happiness and sorrow. For a few moments I was stuck realizing the beautiful paradox that is life and it overwhelmed me. Living is a grand mix of sufferings and joys. It is a tailor made bloodbath of love and hate. It is a struggle. It is a perpetual awakening (for those with wide eyes, a wide heart, and a brain like a sponge–for others, maybe not so much).
As they move down their paths toward 37 they will see and do things that will make them proud and ashamed. They will live lives quite different from mine in many specific ways. However, in many general ways, they will live the same life. They will have ups and downs. They will have gains and losses.
In short, they will live.
In that, they are miracles. As am I. As are you. As are we all. Trying to process the profundity is almost too big a task for a mortal brain. But it is also a gift.
At 37, loping toward middle age, that’s enough birthday present for me.
*In case you are wondering about the blog’s new/old look, for various reasons probably unimportant to you, I have moved my blog back to wordpress. Even more unimportant to you, I will be moving all of my presence here in the near future. You’ve been warned.