hear me

She’d left the apartment open so I could wait inside for her to finish work.

It’s weird being in your adult child’s home. Strange to open her refrigerator and notice that her fridge was not organized like mine.

I was sitting on the sofa that used to live at my house when she arrived.

“I can’t hear you,” she suddenly announced after ten minutes of normal conversation about things that didn’t matter much.

I knew where this was going.

“No matter what you wrote about Mom – me, the girls, the farm or work – I could hear your voice in your posts. I could hear you speaking. I have not been able to hear you since Christmas.”

Silence

“You have a wall up because you are protecting me. I’m OK. Write about it.  I need to hear you….”

In October she’d called and said, “Mom, I am not sure I’m still in love with him.”

Before that call, the last time she’d visited, we’d spent the entire weekend planning a wedding.

I listened as my daughter, with her newly acquired big city attitude complete with disdain for all things familiar, informed me that she was changing.

I am the Queen of Change. I am not afraid of change.  But this wasn’t a change I’d anticipated or wanted in my daughter. This was a complete annihilation of any semblance of the loving, gentle, articulate girl who I had raised. This was different; her ‘change’ could mean the end of something vital between us.

As the weeks took us closer to Christmas, our telephone conversations became terse snapping sparring matches inevitably ending badly, leaving silence to well up in two rooms separated by a thousand miles.

The holidays were reduced to a series of unfinished conversations, raw glances and resentful obligation. Then she left to make the most difficult journey of her life alone.

I had no choice but to wait, quietly. The frequency of her calls increased. Her moods were hard to anticipate: one day stable and focused, the next confused and lost. I wanted to guide her, to tell her what I thought, to steer her in the direction I thought best, as I had countless times before.  I didn’t.  It wasn’t my place.  Not anymore.

As spring approached, her struggle began to feel purposeful. Her language shifted from self-centered to self exploration. All of the anger dissipated into a graceful clarity. Her thoughtful insight began to act as her guide.

And so she emerged from her long season of struggle, still the daughter I loved so very much but less the little girl I’d always known and more a woman I would have to learn  to know.

Thanks for reading.