Ain’t it funny how the time just slips away?
My oldest niece graduated from high school last week. Besides me feeling very proud, this also makes me feel very old. It’s such a cliche about how times flies- of course, cliches usually come from some sort of truth. I thought about my niece and how clearly I remember holding her tiny little body for the first time. I remember when her mother, my sister, unwrapped her from her swaddling to reveal her tiny feet, impossibly small toes and fingers, and to hear her cry for the first time. That first time, the sound of her crying was the loveliest thing I’d ever heard. I remember each of these things so clearly, as if they happened just a moment ago.
This made me think about time in general- how it flies, but also how it flip flops, how it circles, how it slows down and even stops completely. It should be something so easily understood; with clear, scientific facts- concrete and constant. But that never is the case, is it? My most horrible experiences crawled along one millisecond at a time- a 5 minute cab ride with a lecherous cabbie felt like forever, waiting for the results on my tumor biopsy took 3 days (and I held my breath for every minute,) the hours between waking and sleeping while I went through the “tough” chemo and couldn’t do anything- all I could do was lay on the couch and think about when I could go to bed again. The days and days on end when my husband “thought about” what he wanted to do- before he actually admitted to having an affair- when I was too sick to eat, couldn’t sleep without copious amounts of sedatives, and still woke at 5am with nothing to do and no one to talk to for hours. Every breath was accounted for at those times.
When things go well- they go well so quickly. Nights out with good friends always seem to happen in a short hour, though we’ve been out for four. My wedding, which was one of the best days I can remember- despite how it turned out in the end- was so much fun, and so so brief. I think about my dog Mona, who I adopted over 12 years ago, how she drives me crazy, but I can’t remember my life before she was in it. I don’t even want to. Like the birth of my eldest niece, I remember every detail of those first days and weeks with Mona. How very over my head and ill prepared I was for the job that I took on. Yet how stubborn I was to see her through, because no one else had. And now she’s an old dog and I know she won’t be with me forever. I know the last days with her, her life will feel like it took place in a single bright flash, imprinted on the back of my eyes.
My husband has been trying to talk to me lately, which I want no part of. He seems to think he’s thought about things and is somehow less deluded overall. Maybe time is in reverse for him. He says things to me which feel like they were part of a conversation from November, but he thinks that it’s something new. I think about what he put me through, how much I loved him, how it almost destroyed me. It wasn’t that long ago- but I feel like it must’ve been decades that have passed in those months. I feel like the life I had with him, what I thought it was, what I hoped it was going to be- hardly register in my brain. This not so distant past seems like it was a whole other universe- the hazy memory of a dream I remembered from a long time ago. And how can this be true?
I don’t know the answer. It baffles me. Still it keeps happening. The lives that I hold dearest to me rush past me, but my best memories of them are instantly attainable. Having cancer was quite recent and feels fresh in some ways, yet I feel like I am in better health now than ever before. Tomorrow is my 2 year wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe that all of this happened in such a brief period, though it feels like 100 lifetimes. Maybe the hours that became days that became weeks that became months without my husband have been measured out in the deepest of breaths- with the most exquisite kind of pain, the loudest laughter, the hardest of stumbles, the subtlest grace, and the most grateful sigh at the end of the day.
I’ve always loved this song (this version and Willie Nelson’s.) I think the words at the end of this song are particularly true:
But remember what I tell you
That in time, you’re gonna pay
And it’s suprisin’ how time just slips away