Friday, August 22, 2008


Last week I wrote about the connection I share with my daughters: Elisabeth and I are similar in spirit, while Kat and I seem to quietly share souls.

Sometimes that quiet connection with Kat is stirred awake in the oddest of circumstances. Last night, for example, I woke up in a sweat shortly before 3 AM. Normally, I'd kick the heavy German duvet off me and go back to sleep, but last night was different. Something felt amiss. Half asleep, and with no real purpose except to perhaps get a drink of water, I stumbled into the hall.

Standing at the end of the hall, silhouetted by outside light, Kat was completely still -- so still that I was instantly terrified.

"Kat?" I stammered. "What...? Are you OK?"

Kat's shoulders began to shake and she nodded no, then fell into my waiting arms. I knew this day would come. I knew her heart would break. And I knew that somehow, somehow, I'd find a way to be there to hold her when she needed to fall into my arms.

And I was. And she did.

Heartbreak in love at 18 is, I believe, like no other heartbreak at any other age because eighteen is young enough to be somewhat naively in love (having never experienced the pain love can cause), yet old enough to know true love.

Kat's heart was breaking because Stevo flew to New York this morning to attend NYU. They both knew this day was coming, but actually saying goodbye was excruciating and for Kat the darkness and silence of the wee hours of the morning probably magnified the pain.

All I could do was hold her and rock her. Hearing his daughter's cries was obviously torture on Tom, too, and he joined us in a long, silent three-way hug. Nothing we could say would make it any better; Kat just needed to be comforted.

As we stood in the dark hallway, I realized that the drive to comfort our children -- whether to feed our baby's hunger, to soothe our child's boo-boo, or to console our young adult's broken heart -- is both a deeply physical and a deeply emotional instinct. My heart physically hurt for Kat last night, and there was (and is) nothing I can do to help her.

My mother and I were connected, too. And, as she shared with me just days before her death, it seems that she and her mother were connected after all, too, in spite of Mom denying for years that she was ever close to her own mother.

When she could barely talk anymore and when she was floating in and out of awareness, Mom uttered, "My mother..." as she stared intently at... at... nothing. It was the last thing Mom ever said to me and I can only figure that mother, my devoutly atheistic mother, saw something or someone that made her say that. And all I could say to her at that point was, "Your mother? Let me tell you about my mother."

And I did.

We're connected, we mothers and daughters. We share joys and pains and dreams, and somehow we know, often without words, every detail of each other's emotions.

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Kerrie said...

What a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. Even being a new mom, I can identify. It physically hurts when your baby cries. I also now understand how my own mother feels as my sister deals clumsily with becoming a teenager and she can't do anything to help her. (NOT looking forward to that.)
PS: Thanks for talking with me a few weeks ago. Even though the opp wasn't the right fit, I really enjoyed meeting you. :)

Jen said...

What a beautiful post, Carol. I really can't say anything else.

Margaret said...

It is a privilege to be there for our children when they need us. I'm just glad they still do! I laugh when people say, "Oh, you have your children raised!"(they're 22-UW grad and 18--off to Western this fall) I don't think we're EVER done parenting, are we? Tonya sent me over, since I'm feeling angsty about my soon to be empty nest.

Anonymous said...

I feel horrible for your sons, who I am sure read this (at least occasionally.) This must hurt for Aleks or Peter, who undoubtedly and understandably would feel neglected with this sort of blatant favoritism.

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