Ponderings of the Provost: September 4, 2015
My daughter, Hallie, passed through Brevard College’s Weaver Bell Tower on Saturday, August 15, and took all the sunshine with her, leaving me on the other side. After eighteen years of raising her, she, like her brother four years earlier, took her first steps of independence, and it was hard to see her go. I find myself overwhelmed by an incredible feeling of melancholy, of sadness to the bones, since her departure.
It is not that I miss her that I find so intolerable. I do miss her, but I know it was not a final goodbye. I will see her again and again and again, including on September 11 for Brevard’s Family Weekend. In between the agains, technology will keep meconnected to her. In addition, she is doing what is she is supposed to do, and I am glad she has set upon her new path with confidence.
What I do find intolerable is that her departure feels as if someone has scooped out all of my memories of her and scattered them around me. I remember her twirling in her watermelon dress at the age of three. I see her beaming with pride and delight as she handed me her first report card in the third grade. Memories of Hallie scoring a soccer goal, happiness. Later that evening, I attempted to describe my image of at age seven , dance lessons with me under the tutelage of Peggy Clark, and making her prom entrance spin around me.
One moment especially fills my memories. It occurred just a couple of years ago. As Hallie emerged from the gymnasium of her school one fall afternoon, I was struck by her beauty and, more important, her happiness. Later that evening, I attempted to describe my image of her:
“The autumn sun, with its now slanting light, cast a glow on her flushed face. I could not help but notice how her skin radiated with youthfulness and health and how her big brown eyes, sparkling with happiness, cheered on the day.”
This memory as well as all of the others have created a profound sense of loss. While Hallie, I suspect, is experiencing homesickness, which is a longing for a life she believes continues to exist at home, I am in mourning, grieving that things will never return to the way they were.
As Hallie passed through the bell tower, I thought about all that she has taught me about life. I learned from her determination to follow her path, unaffected by what others may think of her. I learned from her bravery to be willing to not fit in, to never take pleasure in someone else’s failing. I learned from her ability to fine her precise voice, a distinct and vibrant voice that shines through in everything she says or does.
Hallie is doing what is she is supposed to do—beginning a new phase in her life. Her new life will give her an opportunity to explore what she wants to become. It will inspire her and challenge her. It will open existing new worlds to her, worlds that she did not even imagined existed. It will allow her to continue to refine her voice and the light that shines from within her.
It is this light, this brightness, about her that allows her to shine. Her light, which is beautiful and powerful, is what, after I shake the sadness out of my bones, will continue to brighten my life each day.