Today I got out a giant umbrella and walked with Luke to his bus stop. There were giant white snowflakes falling all around us and I imagined how warm and cozy the bus must feel for him as he got on board. I caught a perfect view of him out one of the many windows as the bus drove by me, walking back to the house, and I smiled my biggest smile and waved my happiest wave. I thought about how it won’t be long before I’ll wish for moments like that back. I thought about how fast time goes.
I used to sit on the tiny balcony of an apartment Ryan and I lived in when our oldest was a toddler and the next was a baby. We had lived there for a couple of years and we didn’t mind the daydream of moving on, owning a home, feeling financially secure. But I remember, perfectly, sitting out on that balcony, looking past the generic, colorful playground equipment, past the shared swimming pool, to a barrier of other tall apartment buildings all filled with young couples like us and thinking, “One day, this view will be a distant memory. It is so familiar now. It’s all I know, all I can imagine, but one day I’ll never lay eyes on it again.”
I remember last Christmas like it was yesterday. It does not seem like a year ago. Not a whole year since I hid Alli’s first cell phone away in my sock drawer, anxiously awaiting Christmas morning. Not a whole year since I turned down desserts and exercised feverishly so I could feel good about myself while Christmasing with my family and then ate all through Christmas break and gained it all back.
I teach my kids the same little songs and actions that my Mom taught me when I was little and I can still hear the echo of her voice when she taught me. I can still feel the warm sun on my face, still feel the pavement under my feet as we walked to the local library, singing with her all the way there and back.
That’s how short this life is.
It’s comforting in a way, focusing on and lamenting over scales, clocks, money and technology. Little things. Fleeting things. However, in the moments when you have that out of time experience, when you stand out in the gently falling snow and usher your kindergartner onto the school bus and watch him smile and wave goodbye, you just want to wrap your arms around the people you love and make sure they’re happy and taken care of. You just want to wrap all of your memories up in the little antique doilies you got from your Great Grandma and tuck them away in a hope chest that smells clean and old at the same time and keep them forever safe… and you want to make more.
My Mom is dating someone, and it’s serious. Many of you will be wondering what the story is, so I’ll try to summarize. He was a friend of my Dad’s in high school. They hadn’t stayed in close contact, but he came to visit my Dad once when he got really sick. He also came to my Dad’s funeral. I so appreciated everyone who travelled to come and pay respects to Dad. A few months later, this man’s wife, who had been sick for many years, also passed away. My Mom travelled with friends to the funeral. Later, emails began between my Mom and this man because (and I believe this with all of my heart) no one can understand losing a spouse except for someone who has experienced it. They talked of nothing but their spouses and their grief for months. The emails began to be so healing that phone calls seemed an even better opportunity. By the time they went on their first date (which kind of freaked us out) they were already close and only got closer. There was a shift in relationship, so natural, that my Mom said it felt right.
This is where it starts getting a little tricky for us, the onlookers. This is where a thousand questions, questions you never even thought of asking, come into your mind. Justin, Jeremy, Jordan and I are Monte Gee’s kids, and being like him in many ways, we don’t enter into ANYTHING without thinking it over to the result of at least five headaches and a goodly portion of heartburn. Rest assured, we have taken our feelings and the circumstances apart and put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle, and before it’s over we’ll be able to put the puzzle together blindfolded, our spouses will too.
The pieces of the puzzle are like our daily stresses about scales, clocks, money and technology. Each piece is important. When the puzzle is put together, it’s like the out of time moment I had at the bus stop today. The picture is a man and a woman who have had their hearts broken; who have been through more than most of us can understand. It’s a picture of them finding happiness when they once hoped for only survival. It’s a picture of two families standing behind them in support because life is short, and they just want to wrap their arms around the people they love and make sure they’re happy and taken care of. My mom’s only daughter is in that puzzle, and while she’s still coping with these new ideas, and writing a blog post about them, she’s also wrapping up her memories in little antique doilies and tucking them away in a proverbial hope chest that smells clean and old at the same time, she’s keeping them safe forever… and she’s willing to open her heart and make new ones with new people because there’s still room in her hope chest for that.