Staying involved in my adult children’s lives takes bravery, I have found. They seem to be walking this tight rope, one I have walked before and felt the terror of, as I balanced on that fine line and strived to keep my eyes looking ahead, having faith that the path would widen with the distance. And the path has widened, and now it seems that as my children marry and move on to familiar roles in their lives, I am looking back and feel that I am at the end of that tight rope, encouraging them to keep coming. There are so many times I would love to walk away, for as I watch them, I feel that fear, the squeezing in my stomach, the cringing in my jaws. Most of the time, as I yell encouragement and direction, it’s as if the sounds from below are too loud. They look down even as I tell them to look straight ahead. Sometimes, they lose their footing, and I see them dangling there with no net beneath, so I run and find the net, and I try to spread it out and set it up and save them before they hit the ground. But I don’t always make it in time. Instead, they fall and incur wounds and scars, and I sob, as I feel their pain as if it were my own. I lean in and let them take my shoulder if they wish, hand them bandages and tell them how to care for their wounds, but sometimes they keep going on not listening. Infection seeps and oozes, and I watch the life fade from their eyes, and as it does, I feel it squeezing from my heart in an effort to sustain them. There are ladders everywhere, and I place one before them and pray they have the strength to rise once more, to place one foot above the other and rise to the climb, even knowing the narrow and treacherous path that will lie before them when they reach the top of the ladder. But the fact is known, it is rise or lie there and die.
I watch till they are out of sight, then taking a deep breath, I find myself back upon my own path. I sustain myself and rebuild my strength with the love and support of nature and the Universe. I walk on as the trees reach out to show me the way. They nod their faith in me, that I can continue on. The sun shines brightly and lights the way, the moon softens my day, and encourages me to rest. I continue on and I do look back, knowing I cannot leave them. Knowing I must lead them.
That is love.