Have you ever felt both joy and sadness at the same time? It’s an odd feeling, and not one that happens often, but when it does I always seem to be painfully aware that it’s a life altering moment.
My first bittersweet memory was when I went off to boarding school. I was so happy to start this new phase in my life, but sad to leave behind my family and friends in New York. Then, 10 years later I had a similar feeling when I graduated law school, and all of us were finally ending our academic years to embark on our careers. That same year, as I was getting ready to walk down the aisle on my wedding day, I had another “oh my gosh” moment as I realized I was forgoing life as an individual to merge my life with my husband.
For years I worried about whether I would ever live up to everyone’s expectations as a wife and/or lawyer, but neither one of those worries came close to the awesome responsibility that struck me right after my 31st birthday, when my son was born. That will always be to me the happiest moment of my life, and yet at the same time, I remember being scared– because I was painfully aware of the fact that what would lie ahead was a ton of responsibility and sacrifice. Motherhood changed me completely, and ever since then life has been full of what I call bittersweet moments.
In the past few months, 8 new people have entered my life: I now have an uncle, aunt, 2 cousins, a father, a step-mother, a step-brother, and a half-brother. These are all new words in my vocabulary, and figuring out the dynamics is going to take some time for sure, but whenever people ask me how I am handling all of this, I just say it is awesome, and my beaming smile assures them that all is well. But, I truly believe the only reason I am able to process everything so well now is thanks to all the prior years of experiences with bittersweet moments.
To look at old pictures, to hear stories of weddings and family trips is great– because I want to know my family, and yet because they are such wonderful people there is such a profound sense of loss, particularly with my baby brother. I could look at his pictures all day– and I could spend weeks asking him a million questions, and it probably would never be enough to make up for all our lost years together. Luckily for everyone, I have always been an optimist. I would rather focus on the future than dwell in the past. And best of all, I love irony, which helps me appreciate the fact that sometimes the greatest sources of life’s joys can also be the greatest sources of our pain.