In this year of the Cicada, 2013, I am marking time of great significance. Waves of moments flood my vision. Events, celebrations, beginnings, ends, milestones and tender remembrances aroused through similar familiarities, the scent of lavender and sage, the curl of a tendril, on a small child holding fast to her father’s hand. The energy and electric charged glow in the beaming smiles of my three now grown children when they are together even briefly in the same space fill my eyes with gladness. The constant flow of the river just beyond my porch, the sunrise and sunset of each new day.
When the cicadas emerged and first made their sound heard, I was recovering from cancer and several rounds of surgery to remove it. Limited to rest and restrictive movement, time passed slowly in a protected state of reclamation, obscure and measured. I was surrounded by support and love and nurturance, time-keepers, friends, blanketed from the stress of hours spent in constant motion. The tympanic lull of the cicada song beat softly in the distance. My youngest son was rapidly marking time of his own. He turned 18, emerging as an adult after a lumbering stumble through the awkward push and pull and tug of infancy, toddlerhood, adolescence to begin, a man. Seventeen and one year has passed for him in my constant care. He is ready to go, now.
We celebrated this event and passage of time one year passed the last cicada emergence, by going out to dinner. The restaurant, a twenty minute drive was my first outing beyond mandatory doctors visits and travel by foot to the nearby Hudson River. I had been sequestered in a city-block square of time and place, unchanging. When we ventured out, I felt free and a bit unsteady at the rush of sound, and color and life, after my first two weeks held captive in healing. It was my first experience of the cicadas in this green and verdant valley. In spite of the fact that I am old enough to have experienced 2.94 cicada periods, I have not lived in the midst of this festival of life and death and rebirth of the Magicicada septendecim, the 17 year cicada.
As we drove through the wooded landscape that lines the Hudson it was my first time hearing the roar. The cicadas, barely audible from the safety of my porch, screamed of life. I smiled widely, my son taken aback, surprised, and then realizing I had been restrained and wrapped in the silence of renewal and repair, smiled in response. We were sharing these cicadas equally, newly; I had no prior experience or parental leverage. We had our first shared experience, in innocence, as two adults separated by 32 years. We spoke of cicadas, and life, and his day, turning 18. We thought back to where we were 17 years ago, far away and long ago where ordinary cicadas come without such significance, pomp and circumstance, or drumming reverberation.
We have come far in this time of the cicadas. And crossed many miles. Our family structure has changed, broken and rebuilt, his siblings have grown and gone on before him. His turn is coming, in this year of the cicadas. As we drive, the roar screams and calms and refrains again. I smile at the song, the calling out, the demand for more, for Now! Time, short for these cicadas. Time, fast, for my son.
I turned 50 in this year of the cicadas. How could that be? I only just grew my own new skin, an adult, emerging from too long a sleep. My body, hiding cancer, fighting it, recovering from it. My body changing, ending cycles of time, and cycles of life-giving potential. Becoming more fragile and stronger, too. With menopause marking time, roaring and calming, and quieting the hormonal chaos that leads me into the next phase of time.
In this brief moment of time, I have learned to love deeply in many directions. I have been cared for and loved in ways never before imagined. I have shed my old skin, and am growing a new layer that fits, smoothly. In this year of the cicada I have heard the tympanic rhythm of life and death, of love and friendship, of healing and forgiveness. I have watched the emergence of my three small children, newly born adults set free in the world adrift and apart but held tight by the roar of my heart and the threads of my love, tightly woven into lace, strong as the branches of the oak, light as the wings of the cicada.
Time measured by healing, and growth, and the roar of life calling from beyond my safe front porch, in this year of the cicada, we will all journey ahead. Safely and loved deeply.