And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Earlier this week, I said to the Wednesday Afternoon Women Writers’ Workshop, “You know that saying, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same,’? Well, where’s the same? I’d like a little more of the same!”

There’s been a lot of change recently. This past Saturday, my youngest daughter Olivia graduated from high school. The event started at noon and I was teaching until eleven. We had our timing down pat: She would leave at 10:15, with her father and brother and niece, and I would leave as soon as my students were out the door. Everyone else was meeting us there, and between all of them, I should have a saved seat. At 10:15, in my classroom, I heard the house door close and when I looked out the window, there she was in her purple cap and gown. She turned toward the window, looking back at her father to laugh. Her joy was sky-high. All I could think was, There she goes. There she goes away from me. She was outside the window and on her way.

So of course, I burst into tears in front of my class. No, that wasn’t embarrassing.

Then, when I arrived at the graduation and found my family in the seats, my older daughter Katie immediately came over to me. She’s just graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a PhD in math. I wasn’t even sitting yet when she told me she’d accepted a job teaching at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette, and would be gone by…July 1. This was June 8.

Oh, man. And there are other changes underway too, too many for me to grasp. I find myself wanting to clutch my own head, to keep it from blowing off.

Today, Olivia and I met with Katie for coffee. The two of them sat across from me. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy watching them, my little girls. Not so little anymore. Both of them moving confidently into the future. I hope I gave them some of that, even as I’m not feeling so confident as I move into mine.

I hugged Katie twice as we left Starbucks. She headed for a bus stop to take her to her apartment and sorting and organizing and packing and Olivia and I went to the car to head for home. As we went around the block and then down the street, I watched the bus stops and then I saw Katie there. My girl. She stood under the sign, looking down the street, and I wondered for a moment if she was looking for me. She stood straight and tall, sunshine lighting those blonde waves that I used to brush and braid, her backpack flung over her shoulder, and she was smiling. But she kept looking down the street as I drove by. She wasn’t looking for me; she was watching for the bus that was taking her away.

Between my schedule and hers, as a new university instructor, I have no idea when I’ll see her again.

Oh, man. Where’s the same? I thought. I’m tired of change. I was quiet as I drove home. A home which has gone through many different definitions already, and a home that is facing more.

When I opened the door, there was our dog, Ursula LeGuin Giorgio. She’s always waiting, wagging her whiplash tail and grinning that special way dogs grin. When I dragged myself upstairs to my office, she followed. And as soon as I sat down at my writing table, she set her concrete head on my thigh. I swear, my thigh has an Ursula-head-shaped groove in it. Because whenever I sit, there she is.

There she is. Something, someone, that isn’t changing.

“Thank you, Ursula,” I said and hugged the stuffing out of my surprised dog.

And yes, that helps, Despite. Anyway.

Katie. Soon to head off to teach at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette.
Olivia, high school graduation. Purple cap and gown.
Thank goodness for dogs! Ursula, concrete head on my thigh.

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