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QUINTESSENCE

Tree Called Life

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

- e.e.cummings

This poem by e.e. cummings was part of my own wedding ceremony, shared at sunrise on the crater's edge of Haleakala on Maui. These words capture for me the enduring, burrowing, all encompassing interiority of hearts in love. The supple binding and integration of identities and lives. The way in which love becomes us. Or perhaps it is how we become our love; the way we live in love.

Tomorrow I am leaving for a fabulous wedding in Austin, a gala barn dance. We are celebrating the marriage of the first child of my dearest friend Patricia. Patricia and I met in the basketball stands of our daughters's school, cheering on our girls on the JV team. We hit it off like chocolate and nuts, and hung together as we raised our children through the highs and lows of middle school, high school, the college applications marathon, and on through dating, career starts, and graduations (two college senior sons left to go). And now her amazing eldest, having taken the bar exam, is marrying her true love and fellow lawyer (and operatic baritone) under the old oaks of Austin. I am looking over my favorite vintage wines, thinking of our years as friends, as parents, choosing one to bring down with me for the two of us to share over a private celebratory moment this weekend. This is the first of our children to marry and it is hard to describe the huge feeling in my chest as I think of this.

Love, celebrated in the ceremony of a wedding, marks a transition: hingeing the world of both child and parent.
"the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life"

The families we ourselves began to build so idealistically decades ago divide and double, branch and flower. The child steps away and toward the future, laying the foundation stone of a family of his or her own. Beginning independent life with someone they love. It is a moment of long-anticipated arrival - the threshold of true adulthood - embracing the responsibilities of partnership, parenting, life. And to the parents that have nurtured, guided, suffered, celebrated, and loved their children to this threshold? A sweet, nuanced emotional collision. Swells of accomplishment, great joy, and the twinged melancholy of missing the "days our children were little." Yes. I believe this moment needs a good - no great - old wine. Also something nuanced, complex. Satisfying, but the wish for that half glass more.

I will lift my glass this weekend to you, my friend. To your glowing, gorgeous daughter.
To us. To the glorious years as parents that bond us.
And finally to parents the world over, as they kiss their children and see them through a thousand doors.
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