Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bereft...and okay

One of the greatest gifts I have received--one we all have the opportunity to receive--is the freeing of my ability to experience and to express emotion.

For me, this gift has arrived at just the time when I can best benefit.

Lots of years of my life were lived with a quite-stunted emotional life, at least consciously. And, my friends, if you cannot experience your emotions at a conscious level, you will continue to be harassed by those feelings until you learn how to do so.

Apparently, it is a common experience to have one's emotions more available at a point in life which is often called, "mid-life."

I'm 54 years old. If this is mid-life, I'm bound for 108. The concept is enough to cause me to scurry back to today and right now. All I can say is, if I'm going to be here over 100 years, there better be some serious replacement programs for worn-out parts in place pretty soon. At this point, I already understand why spirits lose interest when the vessel grows unsuitable.

Within the last few years, I have discovered how easy it is for me to be brought to tears. Example: I was just this morning listening to Jill Bolte Taylor talking with Oprah about her experiences after her stroke a dozen years ago.

I plan to revisit Jill's story (I have already introduced her TED talk here), and I heartily encourage you all to visit and seek out her Soul Series. There are a total of four half-hour segments which feature Dr Taylor. For now, though, suffice it to say that Jill's story evokes tears for me, often.

This morning, I spent a good bit of time reviewing video I captured of my eldest's performance in Into the Woods, the first completely student-produced musical at the University of Denver presented by the opera majors. The performance was last night.

Just as she did in high school, Aubrie portrayed Cinderella. And, as one might expect, she brought a great deal more maturity and experience to the role this time than she did four years ago. Now, it looks right for her to be holding a baby. She is a grown woman now, no longer a kid. In fact, she is now almost the same age as my mother was when she gave birth to me.
(Cinderella, focusing her laser eyes on the giant to prove the giant has a really bad complexion)

What I didn't expect was to break down and sob at one point as I watched. It was not a little, subtle expression of emotion. No...this was a heart-wrenching expression of the sadness of loss, gut-shaking, ugly-faced crying. My little girl, my universe's center at the time of her birth more than 22 years ago, was now, officially, on her own and completely independent. I am bereft.

Thankfully, the process of becoming bereft in this case is one which allows a parent, particularly a parent of lots of children (I don't care what anyone says. Four is a lot), to learn how to let go.

Aubrie, bless her heart, has helped by being generally absent from my life for the last few years. I don't mean that as a criticism at all--she is simply doing what she is bound to do, which is to grow and separate from the nest of origin.

The end result is that, while I miss Aubrie and will miss her each day I am not able to see her, I also know that she is blossoming into the woman who will return one day with other people who she has either married, life-partnered with, given birth to herself, adopted, or executed any other arrangement with. It will be a day all the richer for our separation which preceded that day.

Today, as I know the sadness of letting go, I am learning the pride of my own donation to the cause, my contribution, my willing allowance of my eldest to fulfill her destiny and forward the purpose of this tribe we call humanity. She, I am sure, will do exactly what she was born to do. I'm excited to see what that turns out to be.

And, to finish the circle, I know it is because of my new-found completeness as a feeling human being that I can both suffer at the loss of my eldest and rejoice in the expected new life she will bring into our family.

Life. Not recommended for the faint of heart, and not to be missed.


GreenishLady said...

Aw... Rick. You said it all in your post title. Bereft ... and okay. The letting go is hard, but your acknowledgement and recognition in yourself of all the mixed feelings that come with it, is good, and you said that too. So you have to do this 3 more times! I've done it once. Enough!

Angela said...

Crying right along with you, Rick. In a very good way. :) She's incredible.

Rick Hamrick said...

Ladies, I thank you for visiting, commenting, and contributing to my sense that it's all okay, it will all work out, and better days are coming.

Of course, crappy days are coming, too, but optimists such as I am always manage to overlook that part of the future!

Olivia said...


Thank the Universe that you received the gift at all---I'm sure many die with their emotions unfelt and unacknowledged!

That interview with Oprah and Jill Bolte Taylor was amazing. I'm considering getting her book too, because the insights she has to share have helped me a great deal.

Aubrie is so beautiful and talented, and now, mature; I think it's perfectly natural to feel as you do. You've been successful as a father, but then there is the loss. I've heard that the grandchildren do help though and are a wonderful gift.

Still, there is the letting go, which you are learning to do, Rick. I would be absolutely thrilled if my father cried at one of my performances (in my case, if he even attended one, but that's another story). Aubrie knows that she has been loved, and that she is loved. You're sending her out into the world well-equipped!

Congratulations on a job very well done, Love,



Anonymous said...

Name: Lesley
Oprah's 4 interviews with Jill Bolte Taylor were the first that Oprah did after Eckhart Tolle and they take everything Tolle talks about to another level. Oprah's copy of Jill's book, MY STROKE OF INSIGHT, was dog-eared and all marked up and kept reading from it the way she read from A New Earth and recommended it highly.

Oprah's recommendation was enough for me. I read My Stroke of Insight and I loved it too. This story is as inspiring as The Last Lecture or Tuesdays with Morrie - and even better, it has a Happy Ending!

I bought the book on Amazon because they have it for 40% off retail and they also had an amazing interview with Dr Taylor that I haven't seen anywhere else - Here is the Amazon link:

Anonymous said...

I read "My Stroke of Insight" in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it's a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I've ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.

jylene said...

oh, rick, i can so relate to the feelings of loss and pride when looking at a child that you have raised, and seeing that they are doing well without you. your telling of that experience brought tears to my eyes, as it evokes my own feelings whenever i see my 20-year-old daughter.
and i have only recently become aware of jill bolte taylor and her book, as she was recently on oprah's t.v. show. and now on my must-read list.
thanks for sharing!

Rick Hamrick said...

Jylene--I think we share a bond with all parents as they see their kids grow and begin to test their wings. That being said, there is no solace for the sense of loss one feels.