On the phone with one of our nephews the other day I was hit hard by hiraeth, a form of homesickness that I couldn’t put words to until I ran into this word. Hiraeth. Grief for the lost places of your past.
We were talking about his new job, his new apartment his new life, and while he was talking about his life I had a vision: he was standing at the beginning of a long, wide road–at the beginning of his grown-up life–a road on which he will, no doubt, encounter joy, sadness, frustration, love, grief, excitement–all of those little high and low byways that make up life on this earth. While I couldn’t see the details of the life that lay ahead for him, I could see the road and I was overwhelmed with sadness because there was more of my road behind me than ahead of me. At that moment I wished that I were in his shoes, just starting out on the open road of life, not knowing what lay ahead.
There are many blessings on this last part of the road of life, I can’t deny that. But the excitement and joy of the unexpected gift are mostly in my rear view mirror and as my nephew and I spoke, I grieved for those lost places of my past. When I saw that image, above, I wanted to step into a time machine and go back to my teenage years, when typewriters were manual, we listened to records and we had no idea what life would be like in the years ahead.
Is it nostalgia? Hiraeth is more than nostalgia. It’s gut level grief and it can be overwhelming.
We have no children, my husband and I, so we really haven’t had the opportunity to walk side-by-side with a young person as they came up. Maybe parents get acclimated step by step and never feel the kind of loss I felt.
But for me, I’d love to do it all again and I’d do it all the same way because I like where I landed in my senior years. Still, I can’t deny that life is fairly predictable these days in a way that wasn’t so even 10 years ago. The open road has always drawn me in and sometimes, I yearn for it.
I wonder, do other people my age feel the same way? Do you?