For My Daughter

Carol A. Hand

I feel your concern as I walk slowly now
trudging up and down hills or on icy sidewalks
following behind as you lead the way
heading toward a future that is yours alone
I need to travel at my own pace – sure-footed
to avoid adding to the burdens I know you carry

*

Loving you means trusting life and letting you go onward
accepting the limitations of a frail aging frame with grace
watching you with love, compassion, joy, and heavy sadness
remembering conundral choices that I suspect hurt you
hoping one day you will understand that loving you deeply
gave me courage to face daunting challenges to keep you safe

*

My daughter, Turns Falls, Massachusetts, 1975

***

Yesterday, March 5th, was my granddaughter’s twelfth birthday. We had a lovely family celebration. But it’s a date that always makes me feel both deeply grateful, and deeply guilty.

I was traveling when I learned that my daughter was in the hospital giving birth to her daughter prematurely. In the midst of a powerful late winter snowstorm, the airports were closed in both of the cities where my daughter and I were. Renting a car to drive hundreds of miles through the storm wasn’t an option. There was no way I could be there. I could only fly home to a distant state the next day while the storm continued to batter the city where my daughter was.

When the airport reopened on the third day, I was faced with a conundrum. I was carrying heavy responsibilities for gifted, at-risk graduate students in a university that was unsupportive of those who were different in some way. If I left again to be with my daughter, it was likely their graduation would, at best, be delayed. I decided to send my partner, my daughter’s stepfather for most of her life, to be there instead. It was several months before I held my granddaughter for the first time.

All of the students I was advising graduated, many passing their final requirements with distinction, and they went on to careers helping vulnerable people. Yet, I know my daughter was deeply hurt. I will always wonder if I made the “right” choice, just as I will always remember that her birth was the greatest gift in my life.

52 thoughts on “For My Daughter”

  1. What a wonderful passionate post, dear Carol! Oh well, what is to happen, will happen. There are so many things in our life which belong to God, not to us. Your story proves it. I believe that we must read more stories of the kind to comprehend it & to accept our being peacefully.

    Many long years to all of you! And to Queenie, of course!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Being a parent is so difficult. Guilt seems to be inevitable as none of us are as perfect as maybe we aspire to be. I kind of think you were/are an awesome mom just because you knew this was a disappointment. ((hugs))

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Of course your daughter was hurt. However, if she’s as loving a person as you are (and why wouldn’t she be, given your unconditional love for her), I’m sure (or at least, I hope) that she has long since come to understand your “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” choice and ‘forgiven’ you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A beautiful poem, Carol, and I feel the pain in your words. Sometimes there just isn’t a choice that avoids pain, even when the choice is for the highest good. We do the best we can. I’ve noticed that one of the things that often comes with age is forgiveness – for ourselves and from others. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Everything has already been said, but I just want to say thank you for sharing. As I get “older” there are more and more of these types of situations where there is no “right” answer…or no solution that will make us “feel” good. Hugs ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Beautiful, melancholy, yet bursting with love. Not many could capture such a range of emotion in so few words, yet you had me crying both tears of sadness and joy, almost from the get-go.

    Choices are full of potential while decisions are often full of regret. You did what you needed to do. I can only respect that, and the difficulty you faced following through… Huge hugs, dear Carol! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The poem is beautiful. I don’t have a daughter but this poem filled my heart with gratitude and love for my own parents. After reading your post, I called my mom just to hear her voice once more. Thank you for a heart-warming and touching post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tough call, and still felt, yet you acknowledge it worked out practically, it is always that inner work that is the longest road. And life seems to always be that way. Thank you for sharing Carol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes, Pam. Life often presents difficult choices with no easy answers. As I looked back at those times, I realize my daughter did have someone with her who was able to provide the practical kinds of support that would be most helpful. My students, on the other hand, did not. Several were at serious risk of losing everything they had worked for during their graduate years. I knew how hard they worked, the competing responsibilities they carried, and the types of hurdles they had to overcome (including incompetent, abusive faculty). Still, my heart is heavy because I wasn’t with my daughter during those painful, frightening months.

      Liked by 1 person

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