Twenty years ago a thoughtful cousin gave us a sapling cherry tree as a shower present to mark the arrival of our daughter. Three days ago it wasn’t in bloom and now it is, full of airy white blossoms, astonishing, like a baby discovering her fingers.
Twenty years ago – my daughter. Three days ago – the cherry tree. I was watching. I witnessed the unfurling. And yet every year I am surprised when the cherry tree blooms, defies the past bitter winter, when it gives testimony to beauty, bounty, and fruition in a sudden spring exaltation.
In a few weeks our 20 year old is taking her first solo holiday – a backpack, a fearless heart, and The Diary of Anne Frank as her luggage – and soon she will be lifting her chin, her eyes, and her mind to new places, new smells, new people. Naturally, I am worried. Naturally, she is not. I give voice to my worry in the form of traveller’s advice. My husband says, mocking but hinting at his own concerns, “Bride of ISIS!” It’s not funny. It’s not even remotely possible but, you know…. You know? In turn, she nods, says nothing and looks at her younger sister whose eyes round and then she looks down with a smile. Parents.
She’ll come home with stories to share with us about museums she visited, famous sights she saw, food she ate. There will be different stories for her friends – the bars she drank in, the music she discovered, the Aussie men (MEN!) who flirted with her. Because she’s an adult.
Her head will be full of images and ideas and discoveries that we didn’t shepherd. These blossoms are all her own. She’s an adult, soon to be 21, and it happened right under my nose. Now she’s off to lands far, far away, where my nose won’t know. But she’s an adult.
Twenty years ago. Three days ago. Blooming time.