There is one truth I am sure of as I grow older: some things you just can’t understand at a younger age.
It’s not that you are dumb or the things you feel are not true or real – there are just some things that take time to understand, and time is not something that you can manufacture, or learn from a textbook, or garner from YouTube videos. Some things only become clear after many years have passed and you look backwards, into the time capsules of life, and the events and experiences you see there get processed through all of that time – and ONLY then – do those events and experiences reveal their true nature and beauty.
So it’s ironic that for some, the moment this clarity arrives – so too, does death. For some, it never arrives at all.
Somewhere In Between
My 30’s are winding down. This year I turned 36, which is neither old nor young, but somewhere in between. And somewhere in between (from my experience) is often the hardest place to be in. Hard because you are neither here nor there. You are neither looking ahead at the endless possibilities of the future, nor are you reflecting back on the entirety of your life. You are usually traipsing along,working your shifts, keeping kids alive, regretting your past, nervous about your future, and extremely unsure about your present.
I’m not sure I have anything good to say about these years. The first 10 years of parenting has been exhausting. Three daughters in (almost 11, 9 and 6) and I feel spent. The day to day is enjoyable most of the time, but I often feel like I am riding a short roller-coaster, knowing the end of the ride is just minutes away, trying to hold on to the exhilaration of the loops and turns without thinking too much that the ride will end before I have barely understood that it started. A lot of the time, I am just holding on and watching the world fly by, attempting to take it all in – but unsure I am doing a good job at whatever job it is I’m supposed to be doing while hurtling through space on this little giant blue pearl.
I often hear people lament, “where has the time gone?” and this sentiment is only truly understood after years and years have slipped through our fingers, time being one of the few things you can’t truly replace. Once it is gone, it is gone. Our memories (and photography) the only link to the past – the time capsules we go back to time and again. And I stare at these photos, and I remember the day. The wind. The smell of the flowering plant above them. The shadows on the ground. The anticipation of our third daughter coming within the next month. And looming over my oldest, just a month later, a seizure that would shape our lives for the next 6 years. These moments, the time capsules, nobody really cares – except me. Nobody really mourns the moment’s death – except those who experienced them.
We are told to live in the present – but living in the present means forgetting the past, and the past is when we were alive. I mean, sure, we are alive now – but to only focus on the present means we miss out on the clarity that is only gained when we look backwards, through the looking glass, into the shadows.
It’s not that I focus on the end. Really. I mean it. Day to day, I’m not thinking about death and the end of it all. But when I stop and consider where I am at and where I have come from, I can’t help but pause and consider… the end.
The quick slip into nothing. The frozen sleep which never ends. It’s inevitable, so they say.
I just want to live a full life. That’s always been my goal. A full and complete life, full of adventure and laughter. Full of friendships and selflessness. A life that is worth living. I gave up on the dream of being remembered long ago, but all I hope is that my fingerprints – the invisible effect of my life’s work – are on those around me whom I love and have served, and the qualities I have worked to attain over the years are passed down, or passed on to them.