"And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy."
Tomorrow my universe will unfold a little more, as I take my youngest daughter, accompanied by her older sister, to view one of the colleges that she may be attending in the fall. I have made these visits before, and each time I have recognized that a very important chapter in my life is coming to a close. I will be walking through the doorway, leaving one very joyful period of my life behind me...and slowly pulling the door closed after me, as I reluctantly walk towards my life's new direction. My problem is that I find myself experiencing a little difficulty letting go of the doorknob.
My oldest daughter moved out on her own recently, and the twins will be leaving as well, by the end of the month. In the fall, my youngest will begin the final leg of her education, as she goes away to college preparing for her new life; a life in which the role I play will be significantly smaller. I find myself puzzled by my own reactions to these changes then, as they are accomplishing with great success the very things that my husband and I worked so hard to help them achieve.
I remember quite vividly, years ago, when I walked down a beautiful street on which the houses hugged the shores of Lake Huron. One of my daughters, who was very young at the time, saw a house that she particularly admired.
"One day I am going to marry a rich man, and he is going to buy me that house." she told me.
Aghast, I said, "No, he will not. You will go to college first, get a great education and become a success at your chosen career. Then you will buy that house for yourself."
"Why?' she inquired.
"Because you are going to grow up to be an independent woman." I replied. "You need to look no farther than your own family to know how important that is. Your grandfather died when your grandma was only 29 years old, and she was left to raise four children by herself. It was very hard. She did it, but it was hard. And what about your own father? He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was only 38. He has persevered because he has a very strong spirit, but surely you can see that you never know what things may happen to you in life. The only insurance you can have in life is yourself. You must be strong enough to make it on your own, and when you do you can go ahead and buy yourself that house."
She mulled my words over for a minute, and then looked up at me.
"Well," she replied. "What if I fall in love with a rich guy? After I am a success and buy myself a house, THEN can I marry him?"
"Of course, you can. I am raising you to be independent, not stupid." I replied.
So I find myself now, on the cusp of that new beginning; when my time will once again be my own, and I can fill it as I choose. I am lucky, as I am still in love with the man that I married so many years ago and with whom I raised those independent daughters. I know we will finally have the time to enjoy each others company more, and do some of things that we were unable to do in years past. And yet, I find myself glancing back with great frequency at that door I am about to close, for behind it lies years filled with the sounds of my daughters' laughter, and the memories of the gentle hugs I so frequently received when they were just small. I must remember Max Ehrmann at those times, and the wisdom of his words...it is still a beautiful world, so I will be cheerful; I will strive to be happy. I will strive to be happy for my daughters, and, maybe equally important, I will strive to be happy for myself.