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  • It overtakes me sometimes when I least expect it. It is like a death, the loss of someone I have loved. It consumes me, derails me.

    It happened one recent morning when I was walking in the woods. It was that moment when dawn asserts itself, when you just make out a twinge of blue in the sky that has been so dark, so gray. The beech, its withered brown leaves, stood out, a contrast, standing there hanging on. Something about the light, the tree, the spot where I was at brought on a memory that flooded me: My youngest daughter, Lily, walking in the dark woods, in the near winter, her tiny little form stopping at every piece of moss, every clump of lichen, to look at this, to marvel at that.

    In that instant, I so missed her, was so overcome with her absence, her joyous (often) presence. And I missed Jacob, and my oldest, Anna. For so many years your children are interwoven with your soul. They are part of your breathing, your thinking, your mood, your ambition, your heart, your every moment – front of mind or back.

    And then they are gone.

    They come with no warning label. Their manuals have no directions on this. And there are no instructions anywhere on what to do when the waves hit, when you look back and are consumed by what was and want it to be what is, or will be. And so you just keep walking.

    And on this day, tears streaming slowly down my cheeks, I kept walking along the path so familiar, looking at the moss and lichen, at the maples and oaks, the young slender shoots and the beeches. I thought of moments, of laughter, of crazy times when the kids showed their spirit, their passions, their humor. I rolled their lives over in my mind, imagined what they were doing (sleeping), my oldest playing fiddle and banjo in Appalachia; my son designing things at RISD and my youngest finding herself at MICA, learning her own artistic style. How lucky I am, I thought.

    And suddenly they weren’t gone. They were right there.

    I walked out of the woods, behind the lead of my dog, into a warming day, the sun trying to peak over the east ridge.
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