Family: Love, Loss and Growth

The second noble truth of Buddhism states, “The origin of suffering is attachment."  

Who isn’t attached to something? I’ve been married for so long, how can I not be attached to my strong, generous, and loving hubs? 

And my blog? I’m glued to my blog, my amazing readers, my beautiful blogging buddies, the friends I've made, and lessons I’ve learned.

I’m going to blog until the day I die. How can I not be attached to my blog? 

My greatest attachment for the last 16½ years? 

My granddaughter… funny, strong, smart, silly, responsible, beautiful.   

She grabbed on to my heart the day she was born.

Attached and showered with my undivided attention.

Mac turns seventeen in April.

I feel she is as close as I can get to heaven on earth. 


She embodies love, joy and delight. 

She has graced my life in multiple ways, an angel that has touched my soul.

I was 38 when she was born. I helped care for her. I spent countless delightful hours “being” with her. 

I taught her how to paint and ride her bike, bought her first concert ticket and helped teach her to parallel park last summer. 

We’ve shared time at the cottage, the theater, the beach, school events, family parties and great grandma’s house.

She's joined us on several vacations. 

We have chatted about her parents, an unfair world, unjust teachers, her younger brother, boys and her idol, Justin Bieber. 

I’ve helped her with school projects, Girl Scouts, and homework. A couple of years ago I helped paint her bedroom orange. 

I've been privy to some of her most private thoughts, stories, problems and joys. 

Hell, I even named her.


I would die for her.

Like each of my four daughters, I always knew the time would come when I would take a back seat to her friends and teenage life.

Over the last several years, I was pleasantly surprised as she and her brother continued to spend every school break in Arizona with us. 

The last two trips she brought a friend along. 

Being wise enough to know she would soon “break away,” you'd think I’d be prepared for her lack of interest in my life. 

Wrong! I was in denial. 


When Mac and A.J. came to spend Christmas vacation with us a few weeks ago, I was surprised by her moodiness and lack of contentment. She asked what day she was going home the night she arrived. 

Prior to arriving, I heard there was a boy she liked and they had been hanging out. 

But we were riding horses the next day and hubs and I had a lot of fun planned.

I seriously believed she’d forget about going home. 


I noticed she wore her cell phone like another limb. She texted more than she talked. I asked only that it be put away during our meals together, with a roll of her eyes she agreed.

She Skyped with her friends that evening. I went to bed early, thinking everything would be fine in the morning. 

But it wasn’t. 

She wanted to return home. Period. 

She was unhappy.  

Normal…I kept telling myself…

Normal, don’t take it personally. 

I was very sad. Suffering even. 


She wanted to go back to her own world…friends, girls, boys, music, movies and all that goes with it. 

No way could I compete with that. Nor did I want to. 

My precious girl was moving on to another stage of life. 

I told myself to calm down, get a grip. 

In spite of my feelings of disappointment and rejection, I let her go. 

When I broke the news that we made the necessary arrangements for her to leave, she was immediately cheerful. 

I was angry at life.

I decided I hated texting and Skype, the technology that allowed her to stay so damn connected to others and disconnected from me.

I was hurt, sad.

Hell, I was mad at myself that I wasn't more prepared.

I didn’t express this, but I did become quiet. 

After I dropped her off at the airport, I couldn’t stop crying. 

My heart hurt. 

The next couple of days, I allowed myself to grieve.

Our home felt empty. Like when the girls left home for college.

Then I got a grip…again.

It’s been a month since she left. I continue to miss her. In February, her next school break, I'm going to Los Angeles to see a friend.

I still text her but not as often. I ask about her grades, her friends, and American Idol. She texts back, but remains distant. 

There is a powerful sweetness in this pain, as I continue to watch her grow.

She has compassion for others and donates time and energy as a volunteer in her community.

She designed a program for girls, 8th-12th grade: Sexual Abuse Prevention, Self Defense & Dating Safety.

As a Girl Scout, she will soon have her Gold Award, the highest and most prestigious, Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn.

Mac's generation has the resources, knowledge, courage and resolution to find answers to the world's serious problems.

I see her future as bright, her hopes, dreams and opportunities unlimited. She's blessed with a large family that loves and supports her. 

As I “feel” my way out of my attachment, I’m grateful that the essence of Mackenzie's being has sprinkled stardust all over my life.  

I know I’ve been blessed to be a young mother and grandmother. My life is very rich.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kim January 25, 2011, 9:33 am

    Oh dear. I’ve just seen my future. I’m currently trying to come to grips that my daughter is going to move away from home (for the third time) and get married. And take my grandson with her! He will be just 5 when they move this April. And they have lived with us since he was 6 months old while she worked, got her degree, and came to grips with a divorce.

    I’ll miss her. But him….I’m still attached.
    .-= Kim´s last post…They say its my birthday! =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 1:43 pm

      Yes that’s tough even when we know it’s part of life. And what a time you must of had. I believe the first 5 years of life are the sweetest and cutest. I smile at everything they do and say during these years.

  • JaneBeNimble January 25, 2011, 11:29 am

    Wow. Just, wow.
    What a beautiful story and post.
    You amaze me and I’m so happy to be able to call you my friend.
    When people drift out of our life, it creates open space for new experiences and connections, too.
    Love Ya,
    .-= JaneBeNimble´s last post…Goodies =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 1:45 pm

      OMG I needed you to remind me of that empty space leaving room for more. Now I’m getting a little excited. Thanks for all of your lovely compliments you give me on my writing.
      Mac has no idea this is on my blog or she would have one big teenage fit! LOL

  • Belinda January 25, 2011, 12:19 pm

    It seems you’ve given her everything she needs to grow into a confident, independent woman. She’ll forge a self-directed path never ever wondering how much you love her. A beautiful, heartfelt post, Tess. Thankd for sharing.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Thank you. And the joy she brought hubs and I is invaluable and unbelievable.
      Grandchildren are indescribable gifts of bliss.

  • Dandy January 25, 2011, 12:45 pm

    Hi Tess,
    I like your message here about letting go. The thing I’ve learned about letting go is eventually they will return to you. We all get to that place where we need space away from our families to learn who we are when they aren’t around. We discover more independence when we are out on our own. But once that independence is discovered than it isn’t threatening to be near our families. That independence is ours no matter what. We realize we can have both, our new independence and our families. Just some wisdom from an adult child who went through what your grandaughter is going through:) Take care Tess!
    .-= Dandy´s last post…Cognitive Distortions- Win against it =-.

  • Tess January 25, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Thanks for all of the reminders. You are spot on. That’s the stuff I know in my head. Yet I get my feelings our by expressing what’s in my heart. I appreciate your care and wisdom, always! xo

  • Mandy Allen January 25, 2011, 2:31 pm

    Goodness, that brings back memories, Tess. One consolation for you is that she will probably grow out of this phase too and then you will be close again. I have no children but had my sister’s 3 children living with me for a long time while she was away working. Eventually she was in a position to be with them full time, with me for a while, then they moved out. It was hard for me, but right for them. They gradually became more grown up and less in need of ‘auntie’s company’. Now, a few years later, we’re incredibly close again. It is as though the years in between didn’t happen. Take heart.

    Enjoy the journey.

    .-= Mandy Allen´s last post…Don’t over commit =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:34 pm

      Thank you Mandy for sharing your story with us. Life changes, we all grow and love and grow and love and the beat goes on. Eh?

  • Charlotte January 25, 2011, 3:23 pm

    This is beautiful and meaningful for me. Both of my children got married last summer and while we remain close and I’m also blessed to be close with their spouses, all of a sudden, things are different. I’d convinced myself I was not in the least bit attached, but, um, I am. So now I’m waiting for grandchildren so I can start all over again. Oh, and one thing I do know from raising kids is that they always come back to you. Your wonderful granddaughter will rediscover you when she’s a bit older.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:36 pm

      LOL I love it that you admit you’re attached. I’m not sure I know anyone that isn’t attached to someone or something. Thanks for the sweet words. I know she will as well. Amen to that!

  • Rand January 25, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Tess this is timely and most beautiful.

    I was just talking to my very old friend Ann yesterday about this same attachment. Ann was my Dad’s nurse when he was dying from cancer back in 1973. I have known her all these years. Our conversation was about her grand daughter and my daughter both going off to college…how both are so bright, innocent, and not exposed to much of the hurt that can be found around each corner.

    All we can do is trust that all the guidance and love we gave them will come to the forefront in their indepent decision making. And trust that God is watching over them.

    “She grabbed on to my heart the day she was born.”

    My daugter was born premature…very small with a Belikin smile on her face the first time I saw her in the NICU.

    This is the main reason I want to go up to do the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon with my two daughters. A slow drive up and a slow drive back.

    Now don’t freak on this little story: My ‘little brother’ that lives on his sailboat in Maylasia…When he graduated from high school his parents gave him a “round trip” ticket for Hawaii to go and surf. Mike did not return until 7 years later!

    I find it hard to Text my daughters.

    “Mackenzie”…my last name.

    God Bless you and your family Tess…

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:37 pm

      That’s an amazing story about Mike not returning for seven years. Life changing gift! And the beat goes on!

  • Patricia January 25, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Great post and love song Tess.
    I know how you feel – intimately, but not with a granddaughter but with my daughters. More of ilfe is letting go than acquiring, so they say and I am great at letting go (except my weight!)

    I knew my youngest would reject me big time – sometimes she lets me in for a minute or two besides when she needs money. She did allow me to heal my relationship with my sister, even though I have chosen not to see her or listen to her anymore. I will always be there and as I say, I will work at not attempting to alienate, but wow it would be nice to just have a regular conversation with her/a discussion?

    Thank you for sharing – yes you are rich

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:36 pm

      There are gifts in letting go and gifts in acquiring. I understand the daughter thing and sometimes they can’t give us what we want. Hang in there!

  • Evita January 25, 2011, 6:52 pm

    Hi Tess,

    I took in those words and meaning of the Buddhist noble truth of attachment so fully during my Vipassana practice last fall. How simple, I thought… all suffering is because of attachment. And yet, we know it isn’t.

    Immediately I tried to list all the things in my life that I thought I was attached to, to see the inner reactions…. and I have to tell you, all the attachments dropped off very easily as I worked through my inner being in that course. In fact, nothing mattered if it ceased being in the existence of my life tomorrow, except for one thing…. my dearest Markus.

    So on many levels I understand and relate to what you are saying. But I knew that if I want to be true to myself and experience myself as a whole and complete being, I have to work through even my attachment to him, to be fully liberated. This is easy in theory, but naturally takes on a whole new meaning in practice. And it is not to say that I wouldn’t be sad (to say the least) if something were to happen to him, or remove him from my presence…. but I also understood, if only in theory for now… that we are truly whole and complete without any thing or any one else. And I remember your words too, that we are enough, always, no matter what.

    We can still love others deeply, we can still show affection and appreciation for them so fully, but just as we need to allow ourselves to be, we need to allow all others to be. For me based on what I learned and experienced in my life thus far, it really comes down to one big thing: as long as we do not identify ourselves through some one or something else, we are free from pain and suffering. This does not mean again that we cannot grieve, but there is a difference between healthy grieving and pain-filled grieving.

    It is in those moments then that we are free to love them as fully as we can, love them unconditionally, and at the same time be true to ourselves in the completeness that we are.

    What a beautiful and heart-felt tribute to your granddaughter. Many thanks for sharing this Tess, so boldly and openly.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:39 pm

      There is so much wisdom in your comment. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m into healthy grieving and that’s what drove me to write this… It helped me process and share my feelings. I knew there would be plenty of people who could relate. Loss, attachment and family are universal.

  • Andrea DeBell - britetalk January 25, 2011, 6:57 pm

    Hi Tess! It’s great to see how you notice your own attachment and beautifully works through it. I can totally relate to that. My baby is 17 yrs and the last one to leave the house (she goes to college in the Fall). I didn’t grieve much when the boys left the house because I was excited for the adventure they were embarking on. I’ll see if I feel the same when my baby girl also goes. 🙂
    Thanks for your wise words. Loving blessings!
    .-= Andrea DeBell – britetalk´s last post…3 Essential Ways to Positively Change your Future =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:41 pm

      Please do share when your baby girl goes off to school. I didn’t know the two older children were boys. I sent you Jacobs mp3 today.

  • Lance January 25, 2011, 7:10 pm

    A sixteen year old…that sounds very much like my fourteen year old daughter. This is new territory we are just entering into. And it’s been a challenge at moments. For me, I’m really focusing on being there for her, as much or as little as she wants (within reason). I savor the moments that we have, when I feel completely connected to her. And for those other moments, I’m learning to let them pass…as I know she is growing into the woman she is becoming – and all that goes with that.

    Anyway, you have been a wonderful grandmother and friend to Mac. That will never be forgotten….
    .-= Lance´s last post…Success- Eleven in 2011 =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:42 pm

      What an awesome dad you make. I’m sure Becca is thriving on your and Lora’s love. Thanks for sharing!

  • Little Lessons Under the Big Sky January 25, 2011, 8:41 pm

    Tess, thanks for sharing a bit of your heart, and your lovely family.

    This post just resonates in so many ways. I think of my three children, and the constant process of letting go and CLINGING dearly simultaneously. It is a delicate and difficult dance. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes heart wrenching.

    Your daughters and your beautiful granddaughter are so blessed to have such a wonderful mentor. I will keep you in my thoughts as you navigate this journey…. and I especially thank you for voicing what so many of us feel in our own families.
    .-= Little Lessons Under the Big Sky´s last post…Den Chronicles- The winds of change =-.

    • Tess January 25, 2011, 9:43 pm

      Thanks for your lovely compliments and you’re so right it’s such a wonderful and crazy dance, all of life is, isn’t it?

  • Hilary January 26, 2011, 6:45 am

    Hi Tess .. the writing spoke it all .. I remember your other posts about Mackenzie and how proud you are of her .. so I can feel your heart breaking slightly .. but it happens to us all .. and she’ll bring your great greats to you! You’ll have so much and many more times to remember and remember with .. happy days are still ahead .. your strong hubby is with you .. there’s no letting go there! Cheers have a fun filled week .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Food – To More Good times and Fond Memories- with some history thrown in for good measure – Part 2 =-.

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:39 pm

      Hi Hillary,
      Yes I’ll be fine. I am fine. It’s a part of life and I think everyone can relate to it so I thought I would write about it. Thanks for you wisdom and love.

  • Peggy January 26, 2011, 8:21 am

    Dearest Tess,

    My heart hurts along with yours. And your post has made me reflect on my own attachment to Olivia, my 19 month old grand daughter. Olivia and her mama Katie live with me right now. Olivia and I have our own morning routine (we get up before mama opens her eyes). Olivia calls me Gi-mama or sometimes Mama-Gi or sometimes just Gi. We read. I’ve taught her where her elbows and knees are, how to feed the dogs, and I’m teaching her her letters.

    Attached? Completely.

    It will be very hard (but wonderful at the same time) when Katie and Olivia are reunited with my son-in-law and they move away. As much as I look forward to being reunited with my own husband and returning to our empty nester lives, having Olivia with me has been nothing but pure heaven.
    .-= Peggy´s last post…I’m In It To End It Are You =-.

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:40 pm

      You get me. But then you are a grandmother! I love your photos of Olivia. And yes we’re in heaven when we’re with them.

  • Marci January 26, 2011, 9:13 am

    My daughter, age 6, tells me she wants to live down the street from me forever. I know the day will come when she’ll want to move away. Some days she never wants to grow up and some days she does. It is a gracious gift to watch her grow.

    Your story reminded me of a speaker I once heard on grief, maybe he “stole” his idea from Buddha! He said that the grief hurts, because we have the ability to give and receive love.

    Here’s to more memories to create and share – they will come 😉
    .-= Marci´s last post…When Staying is the Best Liberating Decision =-.

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing that. I love it and it makes so much sense! One of the twins said she would have a big house and a carriage house for me when I’m old.
      Guess what she’s in the middle of purchasing?

  • Leah McClellan January 26, 2011, 10:26 am

    Hi Tess,

    Aw, that’s sad. The good thing is that it sounds like she’s a healthy, normal young woman learning how to figure out what she wants to do with her time–I found myself wondering why she came to visit in the first place, but that’s how we figure out our needs, by making mistakes. Also awesoem that she wants to be with her friends! I’d say it wouldn’t be healthy if she wanted to spend all her time, for years and years, with you 🙂

    I don’t have kids, as I think you know, but I can relate in a couple other ways. My dogs and cats, for example. It’s incredibly, awfully painful to lose them to death–I lost my first dog 4 years ago and two cats since then. I’m so close to them–I swear we read each other’s minds. But what I came to understand during the 18 months of fighting cancer with my dog is that I am blessed to care for them for only a certain amount of time: their lifetimes. So my job is to see them through their lives and to transitioning onward, and being there for them during their inevitable deaths is part of the love I give them. Looking at things that way helped so much. It’s not a loss so much when they’re gone; it’s a feeling that I loved them as much as I could, in all ways. Not that it doesn’t hurt but it helps with acceptance.

    I don’t mean to sound sad; I mean to say maybe that’s a way to look at your granddaughter and to help with the attachment and pain of loss–you’ve been there for her during the times she needed close contact with you. Now she’s on to her next stage with all the love and wisdom you’ve given her. But she’s not gone–things are just different.

    Who knows? There may be a time when you’ll have a close relationship once again. 🙂
    .-= Leah McClellan´s last post…Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Words Can Hurt Much Worse =-.

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:46 pm

      You’re so right. She had to experience coming to know she didn’t want to be here. Never thought of that.

      As for your love and your animals…I would say love is love and just like there is no hierarchy to pain I don’t think there is for love. I’m not in the acceptance stage yet but I know I’ll get there. Writing this has helped me. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom. xo

  • Sandra Lee January 26, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Oh dear Tess, I’m so sorry for your heartbreak! We are naturally attached to people we care about. In my experience, letting go of attachment doesn’t mean being or feel disconnected. This is far easier said than done, but it’s a gradual learning process as you illustrate with your personal story. Being honest with our self and grieving are important parts of the process.

    Our niece – the one we babysat as a child who couldn’t get enough of us and never left us alone – also went into disconnection and silence as a teen. Now after a few years in college she’s starting to connect again.

    You are a beautiful role model. The beauty is not in being perfect but in embracing the imperfections and moving with them. You are so gorgeous in that way.

    • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:47 pm

      Hi Sandra,
      You’re comment made my day. I love and appreciate you.

  • Debbie @ Happy Maker January 26, 2011, 3:03 pm

    What a wonderful story and thanks for sharing Tess. Love can be hard sometimes. When this happens to me I just concentrate on the positvie side of life. I am grateful that i had the time with them that I did. Grandchildren are like children. They need you everyday and little by little they grow up to be there own person and build there own life. Look at all the adventure you gave her and love along with understanding.

    My mother did teach me something about teenagers when I was one. She always reminded me that she remembered what is was like to be young and her actions and understanding showed it.
    May you always be blessed with an wonderful family even as they grow,

  • Tess The Bold Life January 26, 2011, 4:49 pm

    What a wise mother you had. I need to show Mac with my actions and understanding. It’s a good thing I won’t see her for a while cuz I’m not there yet!

  • Angela Artemis January 26, 2011, 6:02 pm

    You are so unbelievable! You have the best attitude ever about your granddaughter. Your granddaughter will be back in your life as soon as she grows through this phase of her life – and I think you know that too. You have the courage to let her go and live her own life when she’s ready to do that rather than holding on too tight – which she’s going to appreciate when she’s a bit older. What’s that saying: When you love something enough you’re not afraid to let it go? She’ll be back and you’ll be as close as ever when she’s ready and has had the space she needed. Good for you – now if only my mother were like that with her grandchildren! LOL

  • Nea | Self Improvement Saga January 27, 2011, 5:09 am

    Thank you so very much for sharing this, Tess. I’m going through similar circumstances with my 17 year old who has found her first “love.” She’s an only child, so her sudden disinterest in all-things-mommy has been painful for me. But like you said, there is a certain sweetness to this pain.

    Detachment is extremely difficult for me when it comes to my loved ones, so I’m clearly not cut out to be a monk. I am, however, finding my through this time by appreciating the good.

    Words can’t explain how refreshing it is to hear your story about MAC. The more we learn to admire, respect and appreciate change; the easier I think it will be to accept the evolution of our relationships.

  • Jeanie January 27, 2011, 10:56 pm


    I write this to you with tear dampened eyes and a full heart, understanding and moving with you through these poignantly sweet moments, the pride, joy, sweet suffering, and bitter scalding disappointment that THIS precious child was no different…she grew and changed.

    The stinging lash of rude awakening deepens the reward of those memories…
    remember when she looked up at you with a Popsicle sticky mouth and kissed you, saying “I love you, Grandma?”

    How much more will she love you given the space to grow into her own form and look back at her inspirations?

    Thank you for sharing this piece of you. Namaste is my new word, and I share it with you, soul sister. 🙂

  • Tess The Bold Life January 28, 2011, 2:42 pm

    I lo ve your way with words. Love em. I knew the day would come and enjoyed every single second of her. I think it was the first time I was ever mad at her! And I wasn’t mad at her I was mad at life, time all that garbage. I since dropped my “story.” She looked at her first university today and guess who attended there in the past? Me;) Again thanks for stopping by.

  • Jonathan Manor January 29, 2011, 10:48 am

    Very heart felt and well written post. I especially like the line about technology.

  • Aileen February 2, 2011, 9:14 am

    Tess, you are truly an amazing woman. How openly you looked at her experience and recognized her transition – and allowed her to have it – not fight against it or pretend it’s not there. She may not realize how incredible your love and wisdom are right now – but when she grows a bit more, she’ll see the genius that is you.

    how truly blessed she is to have you!

  • tolbert February 2, 2011, 11:57 am

    What an inspiring story! I shudder when I realize the world we live in today and now with three grandchildren (loved the picture of your granddaughter by the way) I see the struggles they will face and I pray for God’s hand over them.

    “I noticed she wore her cell phone like another limb.” My oldest granddaughter is thirteen and this already applies! I think if there is a point of evolution in humans we will know it because soon kids will have ‘advanced’ thumbs for texting.

    “It’s been a month since she left. I continue to miss her. In February, her next school break, I’m going to Los Angeles to see a friend.” And how fortunate to be able to do this. She is still letting you in. So long as that door is at least cracked opened, there is light…take it.

    Thanks for sharing from the heart and I wish many successes in all that you do.

  • hassan elaorf February 26, 2012, 2:53 am

    thank you

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