The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I'm not sure where the phrase came from, but in looking at our children, those we love, it stands to reason. When we hold them for the first time, we move with such caution, speaking in hushed tones, recognizing something within us that had always slumbered, sightly alive, just waiting to be born.
I didn't meet Brigid Jr. until she was in college. It was an open adoption. I always knew where she was, who her Mom and Dad were. I had OK'd every detail of the small, home town adoption arranged through the local doctor. But I'd made a promise not to try and contact them or see her until she could make that decision for herself and if the decisions was not to acknowledge me, I would respect that. They in turn said they would support whatever made her happy. I was 18 years old.
I moved from the State, finding it easier to keep my promise from a distance. I'd like to say the span of years passed quickly, but the reality was more protracted. There's a line in Shakespeare's Othello that says "There are many events in the womb of time that will be delivered". Womb of time? Yes. The sweat of endurance, the agony of spreading bone. Nothing worthwhile is easy or quick, but oh, at the end, it is worth the travail of time.
When we did meet, several things struck me, especially in that I had not seen her since birth. She looked exactly like me. Not just the face, the coloring, the unusual almond shaped eyes . We had the same, identical haircut, identical ewer, and the same color shirt. We ordered the same item on the menu, had the same habits, the same mannerisms, the same laugh. It was almost spooky. OK she liked Glocks and I liked Smith and Wessons, but still. Yet she is who she is, the loving heart, the talent, the drive, from the two wonderful people who raised my child, their daughter, one Hawaiian, one Irish.
Genes or environment? Who's to say. It's both, it's neither, it's something we can only watch in wonder. But whether they are like us, or simply their own person, we see something in them. We see a journey, ours, theirs. We're the rim and they're the spoke, spreading out, seeking ground, moving away, yet always close to us. We're both a part of a journey that is worth every bit of the wear, every mile.
Such thoughts came to me when I was out in the field, within that quiet, questing about the scene, gathering, watching. It's harder in that sometimes children are involved. But underneath my gear, I felt the trace of a wallet in my back pocket, in it a well worn, tear stained photo of a beautiful, fair haired girl with blue eyes.
It's why I do what I do. It's why, when we look in to the trusting eyes of a child, we see, not ourselves, but the foretaste of responsibility, the fierce need to keep them safe, no matter what.
And so it was I reflected on such things, that last day out in the field, looking up at branches shattered by forces bigger than themselves, hanging in the air as if part of the earth was thrust upward, a spectral tracing to a loss more profound than simply lost years.
Somewhere that night a family would grieve. Somewhere that night, through no effort of mine but a heart laid wide open, my child lay safe.
I looked up at broken trees to a heaven unbroken and simply said thanks.