My Daughter/Myself

Sarah & Kate after the toast

Our older daughter, Sarah, got married a couple of weeks ago. The weekend’s festivities were wonderful – a real love-fest. My husband and I reveled in the opportunity to celebrate our first-born, the beautiful, self-confident, woman she has become, the great choice she has made in a husband, and the warm-hearted and gracious group of friends the two of them have gathered around themselves. One of the high points was a toast by our younger daughter, Kate. It was an insightful and moving appreciation by someone who has seen her sister grow through her best and her worst moments. The whole event took on an even greater significance because Kate is planning her own wedding for early 2013.

On the way to Sarah's wedding
In addition to taking the momentous step of marriage, both daughters in the past year or so have stepped up to a higher and firmer level in their professional careers, one as a writer, the other an artist-designer. Seeing how good they have become at figuring things out and getting things done, I realize they have moved into the prime of life. I think of this stage as that challenging middle period when (if one is fortunate) perspective and capacities mature, responsibilities increase, confidence grows and, in any case, one’s life unfolds at a breathtaking pace. I am watching from the sidelines with enthusiasm, and often I want to share the hard-won wisdom I feel I have gained from that time in my own life. I imagine I am like Doc Brown at the end of Back to the Future, when he roars back from the future to tell Marty McFly about the wonders and dangers of what lies ahead.

Their life transitions also make me aware of my own passage into the final third of life, where the experiences are new and I am feeling my way. In the process I am finding that, more and more, the flow of guidance and support is reciprocal between my daughters and me. This is comforting, although I am sometimes humbled in the face of all the knowledge and experience they can draw on that I know nothing about. For example, Sarah selected an excerpt from a poem I didn’t know to be read in her wedding ceremony – “When Death Comes,” by Mary Oliver.  This poem is a wake-up call to open one’s senses and one’s heart to the miracle of life in all its forms. Especially the final lines, which Sarah did not use in her wedding, speak to me about the urgency of my quest to define my priorities for the time remaining in my life:

When it's over, I don't want to wonder 
if I have made of my life something particular, and real. 
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument. 

 I don't want to end up simply having visited this world. 

I won't need to wonder if my life is "something particular and real" -- my relationship with these magnificent daughters already makes it so.  The rest is up to me.