I didn’t think I could take another poignant sweet anniversary or holiday. David’s and mine 35th anniversary (I had my chest port inserted) was poignant enough without Mother’s day coming in a close second. But here I was the day before mother’s day with an unexpected text from my oldest daughter, wanting to shave her own head in mother/daughter solidarity for my cancer treatment. My initial and steadfast response was NO. But that was after I just swallowed a big lump of sweetness that still sticks in my heart from such an offer. The other daughter didn’t know of this as she was too busy texting me every 30 minutes from Syracuse to remind me to take my anti-nausea meds and eat anything I want, get plenty of rest, etc. and all the while entertaining in-laws from all over to celebrate her husband’s graduation festivities having earned a PhD in Business Administration (well done, Rob).
Hair was falling out in clumps. So mother’s day was the day that we felt that the shaving of the head ceremony would occur with Maria, oldest daughter, assisting her dad.
It’s now the day after mother’s day and I couldn’t go through with it. It couldn’t be mother’s day – not the day that 32 years ago this child made my first mother’s day a reality. Toting her around on my hip with her little bald head was not the image I could escape as I realized that 32 years later on Mother’s day that bald baby was a grown women with children of her own helping her mother weather a challenge. Not on mother’s day; the poignancy was too much for even me who adores poignant moments, not just mine, but anyone’s. Deeply moving moments enrich my life – probably another reason that psychotherapy has been my career and passion for years.
Doing a minimal amount of research on the psychology of poignancy did not yield the wealth of readymade quotes to inspire but there were simple descriptions worth mentioning.
- Poignancy is cognizance of happy-sad emotions related to meaningful endings: parents watching their child marry or wave goodbye from her new freshman dorm room.
- Poignant moments increase as we get older because we are more aware of the passing of time. We are more aware of the limits of time here on earth and therefore transitions are more bittersweet.
- It is not that the young cannot experience poignant or bittersweet moments. Look no further than high school graduations and all other graduations after that to see the tears in some eyes and the feelings of sadness of an era ended, never to return, but still the satisfaction, even joy, of a necessary milestone achieved.
Anticipating Maria shaving my head on mother’s day showcased an era ended and another begun – a daughter competently trading places with her mom. Poignant for me but more utilitarian for her. She can do something for me, her Mom, which I can’t do for myself – pure and simple for her but bittersweet for me; not soon to be forgotten.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou
All of this makes me wonder if Christ had bittersweet experiences or moments of poignancy. I don’t believe the word is used in the Bible but I can’t help but think that as Christ buddied around with his followers and friends at dinner parties that there were not moments when He knew this would end, and His to approach the bitter cross would begin. The meaningful end of fellowship with friends was at hand. And perhaps He felt an emotion akin to poignancy. Bitter but sweet because He also knew that the resurrection would follow that separation and usher in something infinitely better and new in the future of all concerned. Including you and me.