Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer's Sunset

"The setting sun, and music at the close, As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last, Writ in remembrance more than things long past." -- William Shakespeare

This picture of Mary Ashley, taken as the sun set on our family's recent beach vacation, makes my heart ache today. I remember so well how I felt that evening as we lingered on the beach. Knowing that our carefree, unhurried days were drawing quickly to a close, I pushed my feet into the sand, determined to soak up every last moment of summer sunshine. I sat on the beach for hours, watching the brilliant blue sky soften as the sun slid from view, leaving streaks of orange and purple in its path.

In the sunset's warm glow, the children gathered shells and built sand castles. Mary Ashley walked along the water's edge, dipping her toes into the surf and giggling as the foam lapped about her feet. I snapped this picture just before Mary Ashley turned and ran back down the beach to me. In that moment, I was struck by the beauty of her silhouette bathed in golden light.

Yet waves of emotion wash over me today as I look at this picture with tear-dimmed eyes. As the sun sets on Mary Ashley's preschool days, I find myself digging my heels in, wanting to catch the sands that slip so quickly through the hourglass. As she takes her first steps toward independence today on her first day of kindergarten, I put on a brave front. We talk about all the fun she will have in school as I fasten little apple buttons, and I smile as I tie red ribbons on the end of her braids. But hot tears bubble beneath the surface, and I know they will spill over as soon as she steps out of sight.

Looking at her picture now, I want to rush to her side, calling, "Come back! Come back! Please, don't grow up. Just stay here and be my little girl forever."

And yet I know she must grow. Time will not wait. And deep, deep down, I know that she is ready. She giggles as she dips her toes into kindergarten today, excited to embark on this new adventure.

That last night on the beach, I lingered long past sunset. The orange and purple sky deepened, and darkness seeped in -- moonlight casting a soft glow across the water as a million tiny stars twinkled overhead. And as much as I had longed to hold on to the fullness of the day, I recognized the beauty of the night. The cool of the evening brought tranquillity as the crowded beach cleared. Voices faded, and I could hear the gentle waves roll across the sea.

Today finds me quiet, too, as memories of my sun-kissed days with Mary Ashley roll through my mind. And I am so thankful. Because although the hush of evening allows us to ponder the past, it also reminds us that a new day dawns -- with the promise of new joys that await discovery.

So this afternoon when Mary Ashley runs into my arms after her very first day of kindergarten, I will smile, struck by the beauty of my child bathed in the golden glow of youth -- the promise of her future sparkling in her eyes. And I will thank God again for the privilege of being a mother, so blessed to share this journey with her little hand in mine.


20 comments:

Jennifer Driver said...

Aww ... sweet Mary Ashley! I hope she had a good day. You too! Love you!

Ariadone said...

Hello Melissa, And yes I know where you are...what this is....I have been there too...and now, seeing my little girl grown into this lovely young lady of 23...WOW...I share so much your feelings of nostalgia and of gratitude of being allowed to be a mother and have these lifes and these loves in ours.
Bless you, my friend
Godeliva van Ariadone

mary said...

What a beautiful story about your little girl and the passing of time. I have a 2nd grader, another one starting 4yo preschool and a 2 yo. I can't believe how quickly they grow.
I have a silly question. You take such beautiful pictures and I was wondering what kind of camera you have? I have a sony dsl, but am always so scared to take pictures at the beach with it b/c of all the sand, but little digital's don't seem to take the same quality. Just wondering how you do it?

Jan's Blog said...

You write so beautifully that I can see the purple/orange sky, smell the ocean and feel the water. And, you have written so vividly of your sweet feelings about Mary Ashley that I felt the feelings in my heart with you. Thank you for sharing these feelings. You write so beautifully and your photos are always magnificant. You need to write a book on your family... your experiences... how you manage to do all that you do. You are an amazing woman, and mother, and daughter of God. To those whom much is given, much is expected. How do you bear the weight of it all?

Judy said...

It was yesterday my son was turning to wave to me when he climbed the stairs to the school bus...in a few days he will be pushing me out of his dorm room as he settles into his first year in college. Treasure every moment.

Mary said...

What a stunning photograph! Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I remember well the "first days" of my son and daughters schooling. Time flies swiftly by when we are loving and caring for our families. I hope Mary Ashley's first day of kindergarten is a lovely one.

Becky Welch said...

You write so well! I am right there with you with the first day of Kindergarten! Carter has begun as well! Hope she had an amazing day and a fabulous year!

Gwynie Pie said...

Sweet. My youngest turned 28 this summer and I can still easily be transported back to that end of carefree summer before he began school and so quickly grew up. I always loved the summers and hated when school began -- I truly enjoyed being with my children full time and just having fun together. Thanks for the reminders.

Gwyn Rosser
@ http://www.gwynrosser.blogspot.com
The Pink Tractor

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
I'm usually too shy to comment but this was so beautifully written I just had to thank you. I'm at another season in my life and enjoying grandmothering my two small Grands but I remember so well sending my sweet innocent children off to kindergarten. Those are bittersweet memories I will never forget. Thanks for sharing and reminding us to enjoy each day with the blessings we have been given. Blessings to you
Shar in California

Kristina said...

okay...first time commenting..I am crying now...my Madeline will start K in 2 weeks and you summed up what I have been feeling. So hard to let them go.....

Kristi said...

This makes me dread next year already! You sum a mother's heart so well.

Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...

Well said, Melissa! Beautifully and wonderfully written :)
Karin

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and well-said...

Your heart for motherhood continues to shine with each post... I feel the exact same as you - They grow tooo / way toooo fast! ahhhh, the baby onesies... how they disappear!

Becky said...

Melissa, once again that is a spectacular picture. I totally feel for you on the kindergarten thing. I was in your shoes last year...it was a half day though, so I feel as if I am facing the same feelings this year as she starts 1st grade and both girls will be gone from 9-4. In one way, I am looking forward to the piece and quiet and time to sew. In another way, I am not looking forward to the house being that quiet and no longer even have kids to talk to. Hopefully they will be super talkative when they get home! We start next wed.
Becky

Brenda said...

I feel your same feelings and thoughts! My baby started Kindergarten on Monday! Best of luck to your little kindergartner!
=)
How awesome to have sweet little girls in our lifes!

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Beautiful photo and reflections of time...

Our 3 are all in college and I'm so thankful for the memories through photos and the stories that are shared when we are all together!

(I have felt that each step they take is another adventure waiting to happen...their dad, if he could, would have had them stay little forever.)

Blessings & aloha!

Thank you for stopping in and leaving your comments! I do appreciate them so much :o)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Melissa, this is one of the most exquisite tributes I have ever read. I hope you know what a priviledge it is for me to read your blog.

XO,

Sheila :-)

Lori Jones said...

Wow, please pass the tissues! As I sent my own curly haired girl off to Kindergarten last year, she did great and I was the one sobbing until lunchtime! Now, my last baby will be starting Kindergarten next week, and I share your sentiments. As always your writing is a work of art that your children will treasure one day. Thank you for inspiring the rest of us to create such treasures for our own children.

Anonymous said...

I have asked you this before, but what kind of camera do you have? And where did you get it? I'm looking at purchasing a new camera, and want one that takes pictures like yours!!!
Also, I see that you are an awesome "party" planner for birthdays and such. Do you have any recipes that would go along with a 3 yr old "Luau" themed party? You can e-mail me at aallen@faulkner.edu
Thanks!!!
April

Life with Kaishon said...

I love this post. I love that she is ready to dip her toes into Kindergarten : ) I hope she will excell. Kindergarten is such a magical stage in a child's life : )
I am absolutely in LOVE with your picture of her in the water. That is perfect. Wishing you all the best!

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