Recently I found myself focused on the concept of waiting. Time seems to move so slowly when we are waiting: waiting for a baby to be born, waiting to hear about a new job, waiting for a bureaucratic system to do its job. Whatever the reason, waiting is hard.
My son Joshua and I spent much of the month of July waiting for his visa to be approved so that he could, as he said, “start the rest of his life.” In his case that meant playing futbol in Spain. And to do that he needed to wait for his visa to work its way through the COVID-overwhelmed bureaucracy of the Spanish Consulate.
In my case, it means beginning the process of living alone. Becoming an “empty-nester.” Now, as I write, his visa is waiting for us to pick it up at the consulate in Chicago and then he will board his plane to the rest of his life … leaving me to start this chapter of my life.
Wait! I want to wait some more. I am scared. I am not ready for this change. I don’t like the hole I am staring into. Or, I do … but it hurts. I will miss him so very much. And I will learn to love my new life. I will embrace it.
A friend shared a quote recently that spoke to the feelings I have about this change: “To river (is) to act with grace, to bend, to flow. A balance between power and gentleness, depth and shallows. It (is) to dance. To catch the light of the sun.” (From “A Series of Small Maneuvers” by Eliot Treichel.) My friend said it was my time to “river.” That this change is a time to bend, to flow, and to act with grace even in the face of its power.
Maybe it is always all of our times to river. Life is beautiful. And full of eddies and snags. And sandbars. And sparkling reflections that bring to mind all the ways in which slowing down and looking at life’s reflections are times to grow and learn. This change for me, with all the waiting and the leaving, has once again reminded me that each moment is precious. That being in a hurry to get to the next thing, the thing I am anxiously waiting for, doesn’t bring that thing (the baby, the job, the visa) any faster. Instead it diminishes the value of the moments spent focused on the wait rather than the present.
And, so now, I lean in to the hurt, I dance in the sadness, and I will look to catch the light of the sun, even on the days when being an empty-nester feels deep and lonely. Because I know that to river means that I can bend. That I have grace. I know that around this bend is the rest of my life, and I am ready. I also know that the hurt, the sadness, the missing of my boy means that there is good there. That I have been blessed with nearly infinite beautiful moments. And I can let this be one of them.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. She can often be found welcoming locals and visitors alike to the Spring Green General Store where she tends the register most days. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.