A driver’s licence. A graduation. A wedding. The arrival of a new baby. Retirement.
The mile markers of a life lived.
Even if we find ourselves bystanders during the event of another, we are still living the moment with them.
Milestones are not solo events.
I remember living a moment six years ago, with my daughter, the one I call the Fiery Irishgirl as she gave birth to her first child.
A celebration indeed, becoming a mother for the first time.
Shortly after my grandson passed from the dark womb into his first light and I handed him, birth-wet to her that day, I was living in the midst of her milestone moment.
That’s when I saw what my husband must have seen and what I only felt at the birth of our five children:
A gut-kicking maternal wash tidal-waving over my baby girl meeting her baby son.
It was a marker for me, too. In the final push of another, I had become a grandmother.
Mother- Love…and now Grandmother- Love.
Two of the fiercest of all loves.
No solo act here.
Further back in time I was present with my sisters during the final moments of my grandfather’s life.
In the bed my grandfather lay small, the only big in the room were his eyes full of blue.
Not suprising for a man who looked life square in the eye for three quarters of a century.
The surprising part was his loss of speech.
I could see the torture in the wrinkle and strain in the eyes of this Irishman used to storytelling into the wee hours, now wordless.
The only sound he could make was a long, drawn out moan, which was occasionaly interrupted by a short silent pause. The nurse said the life was quite literally leaving his body.
After he passed, the painful parts of his life were too raw for some, which meant that no one was available to carry his casket to the church. This privilege fell to me and my sisters and brother.
We carried our grandfather to his last mile marker that day.
Again, no solo acts in this life.
Last week, my youngest, celebrated her high school graduation. She is my Pixie Girl because she floats here and there with a measure of sparkle and mystery. She is a prism, a twinkle, between cute and beautiful.
She has reached a major milestone, a launching pad really, into the next chapter of her young life.
On her Party Day, her dad flanks her right and I, her left for the fifth and final graduation photo in front of the little tree that I still don’t know the name of and in the late nineties kept pulling from the flower garden thinking it a stubborn weed.
Ten years ago I gave up pulling the tiny twig when the first child, the Drummer, posed before it in cap and gown, and now that weed is a twenty foot shade tree providing a canopy for sparrows and peonies.
I look at the little tree, its trunk not very wide, but its branches spanning a portion of the yard that bring comforting shade and hides the squirrel stealing from the birdfeeder.
It measures the in between, the spaces in the middle of each mile marker along the way.
It tells me how much life has really been lived between the photos.
When the Drummer, was graduating, I did a quick calculation and told myself that I would be heading into my 52nd year when the Pixie Girl graduated. Being in my early forties then, the fifties seemed like a misty place…a shadow place.
But when you keep walking, when you keep moving forward no matter what happens, you will eventually cover a lot of ground and suddenly you will be at a mile marker that is no longer shrouded in mist, but is as clear as the sunniest day. And when it’s the last of the graduations, you might be asking yourself, now what?
The Pixie Girl is embarking on a new adventure, one that, the Lord willing, has a long road in front of it. The foundations that have been laid in her life, hopefully will keep her faith stubbornly rooted in God, like my little tree that refused to be plucked from it’s place of life.
My road probably won’t be as long, but I am embarking on a new adventure as well. I will have to learn how to channel that fiercest of loves into my children in a new way. I will have to learn even more what means to be a cheerleader for them from the sidelines as they pass from one mile marker to another in their lives.
God has rarely shown me anything about my life except what is right in front of me, yet He has promised me that He will always walk with me in the between spaces, the middle places and that He has given me holy mile markers through His word and relationship with people of faith along the journey to keep me from straying off the path.
I look forward to what lies before me.
What about you? Are you celebrating the mile markers in your life today? Are you hopeful for the future, even though you do not see how it will play out?
You can be assured of God’s love for you and that He is cheering you on every step of the way.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.”