Mystic Falls, Yellowstone National Park, July 2017
watershed time: an event or period in life that roots in loss or transition— significant because this time represents a major shift or change to what has long been known. A time when you just know nothing will ever be the same again.
If you look back over the days, months or even the year you just passed through, really there is no doubt if you’ve just been, or are currently, in a watershed time. Someone said to me a few months back, Oh my you really are in a watershed time. And it struck me as I never labeled it. Couldn’t label it. But the term was unique and the assessment was exact. True, nothing will ever be the same. I deep down felt the watershed for months, even a couple years, I guess I can now say. And still do.
Significant changes in life alter all that we once knew and shift the balance. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes clustered: starting a new job, going away to college, getting married, changing jobs, having a baby, moving from the home and town you’ve been in for years. The period of your children finding their way in the world or turning 21 or moving out and away— life flowing forward. And the many joys and transitions for those of us guiding young adults and caring for aging adult parents.
But above all, and most significantly, losing someone in life leaves us the most untethered and adrift. Sometimes the losing of that person is because of geography – a move away, or a natural parting of the ways or someone just exits with no explanation. But the losing that takes you to your knees is the kind that finds you missing that connection to your roots in a way that leaves you breathless or speechless or both – because it’s permanent.
I entered the early days of this watershed time in April 2013 when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. In early May 2017 when the oncology team said that the chemo was no longer working for my mom, I asked that question and was told that she’d have three to six months. So our plans of care and honoring her wishes and end of life went in the direction of that timeframe. But what we did not expect was that 6 months would actually turn into 6 weeks. Nothing looks like it did or ever will again.
Time. The baby girl, on a recent flight, reading a book with her momma reminded me of our first travel with our first child and in a blink there we were traveling to visit our second child in Miami, a newly minted 21-year-old with the promise of finally sharing a beer at the bar. Time. My father leaving last week to go back home to where we grew up now living in a place of his own – near my brothers and their families. Time. We can’t replay or freeze time, predict anything at all and must trust that life will place us in watershed times that are inevitable, but trust too, that we can and will survive and even grow within and beyond …with hope in one pocket and faith in the other.