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Ode to Longing
by Fran Levin

My Mom got her wish at her funeral. All she ever wanted was for all of us to be together--and we were all there--my sister, her husband their three kids, me and my three kids, and of course my Dad. Under ordinary circumstances it would not have come about, but priorities changed. We dropped everything and came traveling thousands of miles. I know we did it for my Dad who never asked anything of us, but it was my Mom's dream. Actually, to be honest, not all of her dream. The last part of it was that it should happen "all the time." We laughed about this a lot. I would tell how I would get off the plane and she would greet me with--when am I going to see you again? Like a child, she let her wishes be known, and we knew better than to argue. We let her remarks rest, did what we could, and knew it was never enough.

Not wanting to be like my Mom, not wanting to experience what I sensed was a longing like a wound that would never heal, I raised my kids to be independent, and created a life for myself that did not rely on them. I did a wonderful job, but it hasn’t turned out quite the way I thought.

I think I understand better now that my heart is more seasoned, now that I am learning how to experience life without judgments of like and dislike, allowing instead that life is immensely rich and mysterious and awesome. Now I can allow myself to experience how deeply I love my children, how much I miss them, and how much I am like my Mom.

I see my kids a few times a year. We speak every two or three weeks. I ask myself if seeing them more or speaking with them more would fill this longing. I know I would enjoy the contact and the possibility of knowing each other more intimately, but I'm beginning to wonder if, like my mother, this longing is in itself insatiable--that it is rather a longing for connection to our deepest self, or to God, that has been stirred up in us by the appearance of the child in our lives and all that is implied in what it is to be Mother and Father.

A friend shared with me her lover's lament that no matter how much he kisses her, it is never enough. And I said yes, how wonderful! How sad if he kissed you once and was satisfied! Is it then more possible to say: yes, that is longing; yes, that is loss; yes, that is a longing that can never be satisfied.

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Document last modified on: 05/04/1997

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