The Struggle to be Present

I haven’t been out of the country since January. A work opportunity popped up in my path unexpectedly and I decided to give it a try. Refusing to completely let go of the consulting business I have built and the teaching opportunities I enjoy, I continue to handle them as well. It has meant long days of labor that span the weekends.

I haven’t seen E since he visited in April. When we said goodbye at the airport in St. Louis, we knew his work projects and my new work commitments would prevent us from keeping our every-three-month visit schedule intact. The changes have reverberated even into our daily emails, leaving him unhappy and me feeling guilty.

My son leaves for his freshman year of college in two weeks. Some days, I find myself reminiscing about his childhood. On other days – more accurately the nights when he has missed his curfew yet again – I know it is time for him to go. But when I think about the actual logistics of the move, purchasing laundry detergent, shower shoes, pillows and notebooks, tears gather in my eyes.

My daughter just got her driver’s license a few weeks ago. Impervious to danger, overconfident in her abilities and craving freedom, whenever she bounces out of the house I am on edge.

Last night, I woke up just before 2 am. The din in my head, the worry in my heart, and the anxiety pressing down on my chest was too powerful to allow sleep. I got up. I went into my home office and graded papers, sometimes glancing up to watch the rain illuminated by a streetlight or the headlights of the very occasional car. Eventually, I was able to go back to bed.

This morning, I sat on my back porch nursing yet another cup of black coffee from the big pot I made that only I would drink. The sky was still overcast; the air was cool, crisp and clean. The flowers in my garden were happy. The hummingbird that loves my trumpet flowers paid a call.

Soon, I knew they would all be gone – the trumpet flowers, the roses, the hummingbird, my son.

But instead of thinking about the day they’re all gone, or the lonely void created by long distance, I grabbed my phone and took a few quick pictures of the flowers still glistening with raindrops.

The moment was magical, the beauty fleeting and I was finally present enough in my own life to appreciate it.

 Garden

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