In a conversation with one of our kids this morning, I was reminded of a feeling I haven’t felt for a long, long time.
It was the feeling you have when you arrive home after a first date. When the conversation was relaxed and varied and long and natural. When the evening was punctuated with tiny discoveries of common interests. When care was given in the form of a jacket over shivering shoulders or a cup of coffee to help the evening last longer. The nervous, sweet smiles at the end, and the decision whether or not to kiss. Or hug. The thud of the door and the breaking out of a grin of satisfaction. And anticipation, too.
I haven’t had that particular feeling for about 25 years. I was able to recall it, though. And it felt great.
How handy that we can conjure up those feelings. It’s one of the joys of parenthood. Even though you suffer with your kids when they experience the pain of rejection or disappointment or even cruelty, you can also use their life experiences to re-connect with moments you might have otherwise forgotten.
There’s the feeling of finishing a thing. Like finishing school. Leaving the last final exam and wanting to run outside and twirl around like Maria in the Sound of Music. And burn my entire backpack. Getting outside somewhere…anywhere…and throwing my head back and heaving a giant sigh. Sun on my face. Palpable freedom. And the profound relief that a thing is complete.
Or the feeling on the eve of the first day at school. Or a new job. When my clothes are carefully laid out and two alarms are set. Everything is shiny and new. Full of potential. Full of energy. Lying in bed, flat on my back, wide awake and ready. All set. Here we go. I must sleep.
The feeling I had when I first referred to John as “my husband”. That wave of warmth. An arrival at a grown-up place. The feeling of knowing we were a unit. A tiny family. Tied to one another in the most important way. We’d chosen one another. And committed to love one another. We were “us” forever more. My husband, John. I still feel that warmth when I say it. It’s not a new feeling anymore, but it is still full of warmth and gratitude.
Meeting your baby. Gazing and breathing-in the warmth of the sweet bundle. No words. Just rushing wave of care and hope. Desperate love. A desire to be all things for this little person. And then the profound first look into John’s eyes – both now having seen what we’d been given – overwhelmed with pure joy and awe at it.
And then there are the moments that take my breath away more as I grow older. Like the feeling when you see someone you’ve been waiting for. The tilt of the head and the widespread arms. At an airport. Or a funeral. A reunion. The feeling of collapse and surrender to the meaning in that relationship. To what it’s been through and what it stands for. Letting the love of a relationship swirl around you and hold you snug.
The feeling of anticipation. The days leading up to a trip or the day of a gathering with my friends and family. Anticipation of a big game. Or the arrival of a box of baby chicks.
And the feeling of serenity. That you’re doing your best, and that you have love in your life. An unhurried cup of coffee with John. The feeling of certainty about more things, and appreciation for more things. The feeling I have what I need to sort through the future.
The feeling I have right now.