Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Separation Anxiety

Although I've been looking forward to Maddie's transition to living away, the one part of the experience that was unanticipated was the separation anxiety.

Ironcially, I dismissed, or a least did not take as seriously as I might have, the anxiety the children felt as I left them alone in their room to sleep and now, as Maddie prepares to do the same to me, I am not ready.

Oh, yes I am, but there is a part of me, a very physical part, as the mind has come to terms with this event long ago-after all, we have been planning for this for nearly a year--but it is the body that refuses to let go without a struggle. This shouldn't surprise me, as I am quite familiar with the experience, lately, of being in physical pain when I have not a cut or bruise on my outer body to show for it.

Yet, the day approaches and I am not ready. Maddie is ready. I should be ready. I can be, but not tonite. Even though we are no longer at home, and the fact is that in less than a week I will return home without my daughter for the first time in eighteen years. Please, do not tell me that she has been away before. Of course I know that, but always to return home. It is the view from the side of the nest, as we stare unbelievingly into the distance that will bear up our offspring in the next, last moment of our lives that all mammals--and perhaps some birds--share. A part of us dies in that moment, and another part lives on, outside of us and all control we will ever have.

There is no secret to immortality. There is none. It's a cliche, of course, as are all self evident truths which we forget so frequently and with such regularity that we have to make up oft-repeated aphorisms and bits of wisdom, so often, in fact that they become cliche by virtue of their fundamental worth, and, perhaps by extension, of our ability to forget them.

So it is with immortality. Artists will tell you that it is art alone that achieves this state, but they, in their self-satisfied certainty that comes with talent, fail to recall that even art is subject to the inevitable decay that is the nature of matter itself. Even be they parents, it is easy for artists to value the art over the genetics because of their higher calling, but those of us who are merely parents can tell you that if there be anything to approach immortality, it would be procreation. It makes sense to me that the act of sex should be so supremely enjoyable to primates, since we have, I believe, in our genes the intent, if not the means, to immortality. It is our reason for being here. Being here.

So, as I watch Maddie move out into the very same world--and let no one tell you that it has changed, for the basics are unchanged since we first split into two tribes--it is her ability to cope and fare well through obstacles both merely irritating and potentially deadly to which I have entrusted my shot at immortality. All that stands in the way now is a few hours and the bittersweet separation anxiety of the last moment.

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