By the winter of 1991, the silence around Mike and me was deafening. We were able to work together to create a Solstice-Christmas celebration for Kyle. While Kyle was sleeping on Christmas Eve, we sat by the decorated tree. This was the moment Mike chose to tell me that he had rented a place for himself and that he would be moving out on January first. He gave me the present he had gotten for me, saying that he saw it and bought it when he still loved me and so he thought I should still have it. It was a beautiful ceremonial rattle in deep blue with a crescent moon on it. The heartbreaking delivery of the gift did not stop me from accepting the beauty of it, and I still use it; not in any way because Mike gave it to me, but because he was right, it is perfect for me.

The weekend he moved out, Mike had Kyle with him so that Kyle could be part of the process. It was also the weekend that the reunion was held for the workshop that had been held in November. I was so fortunate to have that to attend, and to be able to receive support from Jaichima and Rutury. The reunion was on Saturday, moving day, and Sunday was the first time that I was in the house to feel the emptiness. I waited until Kyle came home, and then went about the task of supporting him. As the weeks passed, the newness of “Daddy’s house” wore away and five-year old Kyle began to see that it was not a playhouse, but that it was a permanent change in the way his life was.

For me, it became a woman’s paradise lost. The sweet, sticky smell of breast milk on tiny lips; the warmth of a small body wrapped and cuddled in the warmth of heart as well as the blanket; and too soon, too soon, little ones grow and are faced with the realities of dreams and promises lost and broken. When Kyle came slipping in to this world, a small cry like that of a seagull surged from his soul. I’d known he would be “Kyle” for months, but I called him “Birdie” especially when at the slightest touch he moved his open mouth making his little cooing sound, searching for my breast as a young bird searches for the mother’s beak. At birth, when he was placed upon my chest, all warm and naked against my skin, I promised him a life of happiness and safety. I knew his spirit, I knew my ability to meets his needs, and I wanted to show him how to fall in love with the world. His spirit lit a lantern in mine, spreading a light of love within me. I was in paradise; and he was there to discover it with me.

We stood alone most of the time, he and I. Our journeys were both near and far, and always far-reaching. The bond between us grew deep and strong, but the promise could not be kept. Life’s path took us to a place I never thought we’d be. Unhappiness and confusion disturbed his spirit and I was unable to help or to heal it. I was hurt more deeply by the pain inflicted upon Kyle than the pain I felt myself. I wanted to be able to go back to being able to answer his needs with a loving touch and a long rock in the chair; I wanted to wrap us both in a blanket and sing softly until he, we, felt soothed.

He was growing, soaking life up like a sponge, and I wondered how and where we would travel as we moved from old times to new; had I done enough to help him develop the wherewithal to get though the tough times ahead? I see photographs of how we were before. One shows him around three years old, standing and leaning on me as I sit on the bluffs above the ocean. We are looking out across the waves. Perhaps we are searching for whales. Perhaps I am calling him “Ocean-eyed Child” for the first time. This picture represents everything I wanted to be as a mother: an Earth-based, Ocean-wise, caring guide for a young soul.

Sometimes, in the midst of his childhood activity and the days away with his father, we would capture a few moments to savor a cup of hot chocolate and settle ourselves to let our words drift amongst our feelings. I needed it probably more than he did. I needed to know that the paradise was not completely lost; that the deep connection still grew strong even as life and circumstances pulled us away from each other. They say to give your child roots and wings. This is what I tried to do. I still keep the lantern he lit within me fully lit and glowing. It has been the one constant in our changing ways and his journey in to adulthood.