Monday, September 28, 2009

If I Had a Daughter (Terri Hendrix)

(Click on the picture to view it clearly)

Today is our daughter Sarah's 28th birthday - unlike the poem below, she is not married... but the sentiment is the same ("she made it to here"). As parents, we do our very best to raise responsible, kind, smart, generous, witty and respectful children and sometimes, despite our hard work, for one reason or another, it turns out otherwise - to know that, almost three decades after her birth, our daughter is still a source of pride and blessings is more than my husband and I could hope for, much less be able to verbalize...

We hosted a party for her yesterday, at her request, at our home... and it was a joy to see her friends mingle with her office mates hanging with her boyfriend's buddies - she shone as she greeted, introduced and made everyone feel welcome in the worlds-colliding gathering. We grilled out, we played card/drinking games and we engaged in stimulating conversation - okay, there was football game watching, too!

She has not only survived but she has thrived - we did many things right... but we are also lucky to be able to call this amazing young woman our daughter...

If I Had a Daughter by Terri Hendrix

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

POEM: After Our Daughter's Wedding by Ellen Bass

While the remnants of cake
and half-empty champagne glasses
lay on the lawn like sunbathers lingering
in the slanting light, we left the house guests
and drove to Antonelli's pond.
On a log by the bank I sat in my flowered dress and cried.
A lone fisherman drifted by, casting his ribbon of light.
"Do you feel like you've given her away?" you asked.
But no, it was that she made it
to here, that she didn't drown in a well or die
of pneumonia or take the pills.
She wasn't crushed under the mammoth wheels of a semi
on highway 17, wasn't found lying in the alley
that night after rehearsal
when I got the time wrong.
It's animal. The egg
not eaten by a weasel. Turtles
crossing the beach, exposed in the moonlight. And we
have so few to start with.
And that long gestation—
like carrying your soul out in front of you.
All those years of feeding
and watching. The vulnerable hollow
at the back of the neck. Never knowing
what could pick them off—a seagull
swooping down for a clam.
Our most basic imperative:
for them to survive.
And there's never been a moment
we could count on it.

QUOTE: "Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future.... As though experiencing an earthquake, mothers of daughters may find their lives shifted, their deep feelings unearthed, the balance struck in all relationships once again off kilter." ~ Elizabeth Debold and Idelisse Malave


  1. Wonderful photo of you two. When I briefly met her at the wedding, I could tell she was a shining tribute to her parents and to herself.

  2. Hey, Catherine ~

    I love the photo too - it was taken in November 2008 (Thanksgiving weekend, I think!). I appreciate your kind words, and consider them an accurate assessment - Sarah's such a bright light in the lives of everyone she encounters, friends and strangers alike... :-)

  3. Happy belated birthday to Sarah...I remember when she was my babysitter! She has made the whole village proud. :)

  4. Hey, M ~

    It is amazing to think how much they've all grown physically and emotionally - all our kiddos are a source of pride for the village... <3

  5. hmmmm...hoping that all is ok with you and yours...mentioned to 'our M' that you may be in the difficult time when the stun of grief gives way to a numb plodding through the days. Sending you courage and love.

  6. Hey, Catherine ~

    I appreciate you checking in on me - M called me yesterday too (in addition to sending multiple e-mails). Yeah, I've been going through a tough time... as I've worked my way through shock and numbness to "depression", realizing the magnitude of my loss - although I can't seem to motivate in many ways, there is lots going on in my head... and it's all intended for a future blog post...

    Again, thanks for the long-distance courage and love - it helps... <3

  7. I'm glad you have circles of support (family, friends, book club, UU, music, poetry)to help skirt the edges of the black hole that is "depression". It took me a long time to crawl out after I became an orphan. Some days I still step precariously close.

    Don't hesitate to call out for a life line - 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' is playing on your blog right now....

  8. Hey, Catherine ~

    I do have an amazing support system... but I feel sorry for them sometimes - they don't know how to react... because my needs are ever-changing (hug me, don't touch me, call me, leave me alone, etc.)...

    Yeah, the O Word (Orphan) has hit hard - thanks for being there... and for helping to pave the way through this emotional minefield...