As I continue to grow older, I’m terrifyingly aware of time. Time that’s passed since my childhood. Time that’s passed with my parents and grandparents. And the time I have with my own children.
Time is a double-edged sword. While time has given me so many things, like relationships, maturity, insight, and children, it has also taken from me, and continues to take, selfishly. Time doesn’t stop, ever. It actually seems to speed up as we get older, because we are so aware of it, and don’t want it to end.
As half my lifetime has passed, a heaviness on my chest has formed, like a ton of bricks. Although it didn’t show up there over night, the weight has become so heavy, it can no longer be ignored. As hard as I’ve tried and still want to brush that feeling to the side, maybe for another moment, the moment has finally come to look at it for what it is. The time has come to acknowledge the storm stirring inside me and say, “Yes, I see you. I see the dark clouds ahead. I see the storm brewing. And I’m scared shitless.”
I’m losing so much as I grow older. Where did my childhood and all the people in it go? People are leaving me as the memories grow foggier. It has been 14 years since one of my beloved grandmothers passed away and I can’t remember what her voice sounded like. I’s been 8 years since my grandfather passed and I have to squint to recall what his face looked like. It’s only been 6 months since my last living grandmother died and I fear the day I can’t remember her smile.
How does someone prepare for the next chapter? I don’t want to know what lies ahead of me. And while I hate being stuck in this place, somewhere between nostalgia and fear, I can’t stop thinking about it. I get sad when I create memories with my own children that remind me of mine as a kid, because they feel so far away. Almost like another lifetime ago. And I miss them. I miss all of the people in those memories.
But this is life, and it scares the shit out of me. I’ve watched my parents lose their parents. Knowing how bad those losses hurt them, I can’t imagine how bad they will hurt me. But with the help of good ol’ time, they have healed as much as one can. I imagine their souls are walking around with gaping holes missing, due to the heartache and emptiness they feel without their parents.
I now understand the nostalgia my parents felt when I was a kid. They turned the volume up when their “old” music would come on the radio as I begged to change the station. They cried tears of joy when they watched me bond with my grandparents. I never understood. I couldn’t understand, until now.
As I turn up the volume to a Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville song, I’m brought to tears. I’m taken right back to the first concert my daddy ever took me to when I was just 10 years old. “I don’t know much, but I know I love you. And that may be all I need to know.” There they are, those nostalgic tears.
It’s achingly beautiful, the circle of life. I see the immense joy on my parents faces as they enjoy their grandchildren. It’s absolutely the best gift I’ve ever given them. And as I wallow in my fear as I write this to you, I guess what I’m trying to convey is, there’s never enough time. There’s never enough, “I love you-s.” There’s never a satisfying “goodbye.” It will always hurt. Even the good times will hurt, because you don’t know if or when another one will come.
And although time really sucks ass sometimes, it’s also given me the insight and understanding that I must cherish every conversation with the ones I love. It’s given me the knowledge that the love must continue to be poured out of me without regret. The love must be acknowledged, given, received and lived.
We’ll all do it differently. Some will live in the moment, and never fear the “what ifs.” But they may also regret not remembering to say, “I love you,” or “goodbye.” And some will live in moments being all too aware of how short those moments are. They may regret not living in the moment as fully as it could have been lived, but will always know they had plenty of “I love you-s” and a beautiful “goodbye.”
Life is full of moments that time gives and takes from us. I miss a lot of moments that are now in the past. But for everyone that is still here, I’m grateful to share in more moments, pass them to my children, and show them how precious time is.
And we always have our memories, right? Even though the memories can be painful, they can also, for a split second, place us right back in that moment. And in that moment, we can experience how amazing that time was.
It’s poetic, because that moment is fleeting, just like life.