To Brianna, Looking Forward and Back

June 7, 2011

 It’s a paradox, you know?  At this moment in time, on this particular occasion, this momentous hour of looking forward and back, it’s a paradox.   You’re a paradox.

I look into your eyes and still see the tiny, fragile newborn before me, nestled comfortably in the crook of my arm.  Your eyes look up at me and I fill your whole world.  You, too, fill my whole world.  Your every need is my charge, and I am consumed with the responsibility and the wonder and most complete love I have ever known. 

I look into your eyes and see also an amazing young woman on the verge of adulthood— intelligent, capable, and ready to take on the world.  You are blessed with a generous heart and a spirit that shines through your eyes and radiates in your smile.  And I am still filled with wonder and the most complete love I have ever known.

You graduate tomorrow, and it’s the end in a lot of ways.  This marker to the end of childhood is a happy one, one that celebrates the achievements and accomplishments you’ve worked so hard to earn.  It’s the end of the life you’ve known for the past 18 years, one that has seen you through skinned knees and the Tooth Fairy and the sometimes precarious terrain of teenaged relationships.  It’s the end of school life and home life as you have always known it.  It’s the end, but it’s okay; you are ready.

You graduate tomorrow, and It’s the beginning in even more ways that you can know.  Who knows where your new journey will take you?  New schools, new cities, new jobs, new friends, new experiences.  You are starting out on the journey to discover who you are, who you will become, and I am excited to see where that journey takes you.  Just as when you were first beginning to walk, there may be some stumbles—perhaps you may fall a time or two—but you will find your sure footing and begin to run before you know it.  It is the beginning, but it’s okay; you are ready.

Today you stand on a bridge, one foot on either side.   One foot in childhood, looking back on the joy of childhood, and one foot in adulthood, looking forward to the excitement and unknown of the future.  Nostalgia and anticipation.  Comfort and nervousness.  Pride and eagerness.  I look at you and see all these things in you, looking forward and back.  I see also in you myself, some years ago, on my own bridge, appreciating everything that brought me to that moment in time, and eagerly awaiting all that was before me.  The paradox?  You feel like you’re crossing that bridge, but you don’t really ever lose where you came from; you take it with you.

Today you have memories, some good and some less so, as you look back on your past.  You have your family, your childhood home, your classmates, your closest friends who know all your secrets.  And even though you won’t live with your family day in and day out, as you have for nearly eighteen years, and even when you move from your childhood home, they will continue to be a part of who you are.  They are a part of the stories of your life—the ones you’ll pass down to your own children someday.  Some of your friends will remain an integral part of your life in the future; some will become memories that occasionally resurface when you pass an old familiar haunt, or hear a certain song on the radio.  Not ever-present, not at the forefront, but there, nonetheless.  They are a piece of the fabric of your being, and always will be.  These people, these places, these experiences of your past—they have led you to where you are now, and will continue to lead you into your future.  Embrace that.  Celebrate that.  Because who you are, where you are?  It’s pretty great.

It’s a paradox, you know? 

So here you stand, at this moment in time, on this particular occasion, this momentous hour of looking forward and back.  Your feet are in two worlds; you are at the beginning and at the end.  Take a moment.  Breathe it all in.  There is no other moment in your life quite like this, and I want you to remember it.  Remember it as possibility, as hope.  The world is out there waiting for you to make the most of it.  And remember, most importantly of all, no matter where your journey takes you, wherever you go, I am proud of the young woman you have become, more than I can possibly say.  You are also my baby, and always will be. I am filled with wonder, and filled with more love than I have ever known.  That too, you take with you, forever.  It is the end, and it is the beginning, but it’s okay; you are ready.

 

I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always.  As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be….

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