When I returned to Madison I felt like I had a hangover. It was an emotional hangover filled with a heightened sense of excitement, disbelief and awe that remained with me for several days, making it a bit of a challenge to keep my mind focused. It was as though I understood that I had received an invitation to change, and I was wanting to set this change in motion immediately, even though I knew that realistically I was in no position to drop my daily commitments, pack my suitcase and head out to California. But in my heart I knew that I had met the woman who could be my respected, safe and treasured mentor...Francis, and that alone was intoxicating. Hey, maybe that's why I felt like I returned with a hangover.
During this period of waiting, I would smile as I recited my version of the prayer for gaining patience...Dear God, please grant me patience and I want it now! That sums up how I was feeling about needing to wait, save money and find the time in order to go on a week retreat with Francis. I also needed to accept that the timing wasn't wonderful since Jessica was looking into colleges, which meant that we would have four years of financial commitments. Paying college tuition could certainly affect my ability to put money aside in a retreat fund, but I was focused on saving money, no matter how small each contribution may be.
Jessica was in her senior year in high school, which was an interesting time for our family. She was very involved in student council and this commitment kept her busy and happy with all that she was able to accomplish. I was involved in preparing myself for her departure from home to college. The two of us had been a solidly connected duo for so many years and the thought of her leaving Madison for an indefinite period was beyond my comprehension. It literally took me the entire year to gradually process that this was a natural time for her to venture out on her own, as well as the natural time for me to willingly open my arms and send her off on her journey as an adult. Intellectually I understood this to be true, good and healthy, but in my heart I was sad and full of my own natural uncertainty about how my life would look and feel when she was far away in Washington D.C. I had difficulty envisioning my daily routine for the next year, a routine that would not include our time spent together at the end of each day sharing the highs and lows of our day. It was our nightly ritual, and one I treasured. So many other holes...so many questions. Who would be able to go clothes shopping with me and share an honest opinion? Who would go to Door County with me and enjoy doing all the things that we both considered fun? Who would sit and talk with me about everything and nothing at the same time?
I learned that growth and change can be quite painful, even knowing that this was the best time for us to naturally separate didn't lesson the degree of loss and pain.