Today Eliza left on her road trip back up to Victoria for another year of University.
I sat on the stoop and watched her drive away, my heart full of the complicated mixture of pride and sadness that is becoming a familiar part of parenting a young adult. I wanted to go inside and sob into the pillows of her unmade bed, wallowing in the emptiness of that room, already strange without her presence. Instead, I grabbed my swim gear and headed for the Berkeley Marina.
Sunshine and wind greeted me and I was glad I came until I jumped into the water and its rusty brown hue pulled me back into my misery. This morning’s local news was full of stories of thousands of dead fish that have washed up on the shores of the San Francisco Bay as a result of this algae bloom that is the largest and longest lasting in recent memory.
The planet is suffering. My daughter is leaving.
I cried for all of it.
Soon, though, the water worked its magic; the long pulls and deep breaths; the waves and seagulls; the bridges, the view, the sunshine. I stopped when I got to Hs. Lordships and frolicked in the waves, took in the beauty. Even in all the suffering, there is so much beauty; so much joy to be found.
Saying goodbye to Eliza I wanted to hold on tight with both of my grippy hands, but I also thought, yes, you go, you brave, beautiful child. I watched her drive away in the car she bought and fixed up, back to the place where, when she was last there, she was as ill and unhappy as she’s ever been. There are so many layers of bravery there; such resilience.
Lessons in living with sadness and beauty side-by-side are all around me today.