June 3rd is the day that my son will graduate from High School. It's a day that is thrilling and filled with possibility. He will spend his time planning an exciting fall where he will rejoin his best friend and live in Colorado again. It's an exciting time for all of us with traveling family and sending out announcements. Our family has had so many transitions this spring. Moving to a new home, joining a new community. It has been full of change and possibility.
I decided to work on a "small" video project ( it turned into a 23 minute video) for my son that would hold a few photos from his babyhood, childhood, up to present. I scoured old pictures and pulled up songs that are meaningful for him & us. I worked on this for the better part of a week & my God it was painful. It was a tear filled awareness of the finality of the changes to come & what the past looked like. I had a wistful longing to romanticize the past as perfect and to feel wary of the future. Looking at all these old photos just pulled up feelings of loss, passage of time & the reality that he will likely include us in his life in short spurts now. It was also joyful in seeing all these amazing landscapes and how much we did as a family together. So much adventure & love. One of the songs I chose for the video was "Good Riddance" by Green Day and I bawled during this... because I hoped he had the time of his life but the truth is, as my husband pointed out, that the time of his life is ahead. After that conversation a dear friend came over and she watched the video I had made. I told her what my husband had said and then I said out loud- "Well, it was the time of my life". She said, "Yeah", knowingly. Her sons have both graduated from High School & are on to college. Whew, that is a hell of a thing, right. It feels like the time of my life is coming to an end, really. The photos show my family on mountains, in National Parks, kayaking the San Juans, hiking all over, skiing, etc. There are no pictures of the kids sick, having a tantrum, being defiant, lying. There are no pictures of me losing it & utilizing questionable parenting tactics. So I know that this photo filled collage is biased towards joy. The trick of photos where you take the good & leave the bad. Yet it still feels like my most important purpose is coming to an end. This is my edge to lean into right now.
The advice is "find a hobby", "pick up more hours at work", "do all the things you haven't had time for", blah, blah, blah. I will do some of this but I don't want to temporarily bandaid this. I want to really see it, be honest & talk about how our relationship can move in a new and different direction. I hope to acknowledge how difficult this is for all of us.
The best thing I read about this so far was by Brene Brown who thank God is going through this at the same time I am. Her instagram post from May 22nd:
"There’s a combination of joy and grief that can take your breath away. The sum of those two parts wells up inside you and holds your breath hostage until you let go of the notion that you can control the paradox and choose between joy and grief. Your breath returns only when you submit to the reality that you are caught in the grips of both delight and sorrow. Both are strong. Both are true.
In many ways, the etymology of the word "paradox" captures the heart of what it means to love. From the Greek origins, it's the joining of two words para (contrary to) and dokein (opinion), the Latin paradoxum means "seemingly absurd but true." ~ Brene Brown
Paradox is the perfect word! I have such pride for what he has accomplished and the wonderful young man he has become. His bravery & integrity inspire me. Yet, I have such grief over losing his daily presence. It's true that I can't choose between joy & grief right now. They seem to coexist in a confusing mixture within. Paradoxical confusion sounds like a mental illness but it really is this state of being that I have pulled up residence in for the time being. So off to get cozy with absurdity and pull together graduation festivities. May there be grace in this process and the unfolding of a promising future.
Peace & Love,
Below is a silly video I slapped together just for fun. This is NOT the 23 minute short movie so have no fear~