Beginner's Heart


via deviantart

via deviantart

My DIL is packing for the trip early tomorow morning that will put her, my son, and my beloved grandson on a plane back ‘home’ to Blacksburg. The idyllic days I’ve spent tickling, hugging, feeding, holding, and inhaling my grandson — and trying to refrain from doing the same to a grown man & woman! — are almost done. And even though I know we will have weeks ahead — over spring break, and again in May when the new baby is due — it’s not NOW.

It’s not this fragile moment, when Trin is 17 months old. When his vocabulary shows his interests: airplane, milk, mama, dada, doggie, book. He will learn new words, and the lingering fragrance of babyhood will fade as he moves further into sturdy toddler.

Today a friend posted his New Year’s blog, a lovely essay on crossing the threshold of the New Year, and taking a picture of this moment, right NOW. All day it’s resonated with me, as I fed my grandson yogurt sweetened w/ jam, cut toast into small pieces, held him while he drank his milk. Later, we shopped together, the four of us, as my beloved nursed incipient flu, and I watched father, mother, son dance that ancient ballet of family love. Thinking: now now now.  Knowing it was all so very ephemeral.

the author's

the author’s

On this side of the months that will separate me from him, Trin adores being read to, much of this morning’s activities.  We made all the sounds of the animals in Clifford’s bilingual ‘sounds of the animals’ book, mooing for the vaca, and woofing for el perro. We peeped for chicks, and then moved on to counting books, naming the butterflies, the flowers, and the other quanitifiable objects outlined & coloured. There is no quantifying how much I will miss my son, my DIL, my grandson.

I’m very bad with goodbyes. Too many of them felled me over the course of my peripatetic childhood. For years as a child I believed that worlds — people, my grandmother & great-aunt, to be precise — ceased to exist when I moved across the ocean. I’m older now, but what I still believe is this: nothing remains the same. Certainly not the ephemeral beauty of babyhood. This we realise, at least intellectually. But my wonderful DIL will be another 2+months pregnant. And my wonderful son will be immersed in teaching his first class in differential equations. These next 2+ months will fill with changes not only for Trin, who will almost certainly no longer fall as he overruns his new walking expertise. There will be hanges in me, in the three of them, in the world. It willl be spring, not winter. The nursery for baby 2 will be in progress. It will be almost time for an entirely new person to join us.

via flickr

via flickr

All of this by way of saying: seasons change. Our wise ones knew this, and gave us words to remind us to live in the now. But right this moment? Now is goodbye. And I’m focusing on something far more basic: breathing. Offering up this separation, and these months of coming change, as tonglen. Breathing from the centre of the grief for all the others in the world stricken with this same heartache.

Does it make things better? Surprisingly, yes. Or maybe — given the long history of this revered Buddhist teaching — it isn’t. Again, those wise elders of ours knew some stuff. Stuff I’m still learning ~

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