I am typing on a sunny window seat, in a small cabin made of logs, cradled in a patch of blueberry, bay, and cranberry. How quiet it is, this first day of solitude. It’s the kind of quiet that roars in the ears, emerging from a long stretch of not-quiet. After a two-year build-up to a stalled, altered, adapted, improvised, and ultimately glorious celebration of marriage, I am in let-down mode. The last child’s wedding. The calm after the commotion.
“My youngest daughter has been married three times,” we’ve been saying. Married to the same man, that is. It is a covid tale: the called off wedding, the secret City Hall elopement, the tiny family event to replace the dream wedding. In our case, the dream vision came to pass at last, 18 months into the marriage, fraught by compromise but embraced at last in full gratitude.
Tessa wore my wedding dress, which was also my sister's dress 40 years ago. My sister, who I hadn't seen in two years, shared the day with us too. Tessa and Chris's dogs walked us (dragged us…) down the grassy aisle on a day of Maine September perfection. We danced, sang, toasted, hugged (vaccinations required). No one fell off a boat. The four-hour power outage during the island rehearsal dinner became an adventure rather than a disaster. Parents managed baby meltdowns deftly. Lost keys were found. Love prevailed, all around.
I am here on my dear island alone, appreciating this temporary suspension in solitude. The last contingent of family departed Sutton Island yesterday; Jonathan has returned to work. I can’t imagine greater happiness than bathing in my daughter’s joy amidst all the people who love her. I went full immersion – a shameless Grandma flinging herself around the dance floor, weaving around crowds of celebrants. But also, there’s this happy that I’m feeling now, fulfilled, returned home to myself, in quietness. I suppose that’s where we all land eventually, no matter the size of the crowd.
I’m not always content in solitude, but this one is blissful. Life's unpredictable veerings so often disappoint, throw our plans out the window. So I will try to immerse gratefully in every present tense: my arms around my daughter in a cacophony of joyful music; my empty cabin, empty arms, empty ears, overflowing heart. Beauty, I see you, in the roar and in the silence.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.