Today is my youngest daughter's sixteenth birthday. She's the last chick in my little nest. Last woman standing. Aspen came into my life when the whole thing was falling apart... or in retrospect, maybe it was coming together. With her as a small baby I left behind a life, a husband, a community that had done far more damage than I think I have realized even now. She was a like a healing balm. Her painfully precious spirit was a constant reminder that there was still good in the world and a reason to keep going.
Life ebbs and flows. I continue to learn how to work with the seasons and quit fighting them so hard, trusting that once again, instead of my life falling apart, hindsight will tell me that it's just opening up to the next thing. And Aspen is still here. Still reminding me that there is good in the world. She's got a quick wit and a smart mouth, but it's no less precious than her tiny-person realism 16 years ago. Instead of a giggling little imp, she's a sarcastic teenager, and it's just what I need.
Today feels heavy. It's a combination of loss and the reality that this kid will only be my sidekick for two more years and then I am on my own to find the good out there. As the years pass, I have had to look back and find healing for the damage of those early years, for myself and for my girls. Avoidance only works for so long, as I am discovering.
I guess it's ok to let the weight settle and embrace the pain of growth. It's a season. Maybe the next will hold more joy. Maybe I will learn to be more like Aspen, and embrace the rock and roll of life with a good sense of humor and an abiding sense of joy in the journey.