the power of replay
in the picture show that’s been spooling through my head these months, these weeks, these past few days, i find myself looping forth and back.
from birth, to backyard sacraments (the morn we laid to rest the baby bird, before that the afternoon in our city garden when we blessed our newborn babe), to long hours after midnight, as i lay awake and worried.
i’ve remembered sounds — the swishing of the screen door on the old-world bakery where we used to stroll for an oatmeal-raisin cookie bigger than my little one’s pudgy hand.
and i’ve remembered breath-taking moments — the early morn in bed when his papa and i stumbled on what would be his name, the name that to me, then and now, sparked the picture of a tall, honest prairie boy, which in many ways he has become.
or this: the golden-lit noon when the call came from a stranger, she’d found my boy, limp, bloodied, mumbling, on a bike path in the woods.
they’ve all come tumbling, frame after frame, sight and sound and swirl.
as we near the marker labeled graduation, i find this time affords that rare chance to riffle through the picture box i carry where i go, the one inside my head. i pick up frames, i examine once again. i lay them in a row. and shuffle them through time.
it’s what we do, we humans who are gifted with a heart and with capacity for replay, rewind, fast forward.
life moves swiftly when we’re not watching — and even when we are. and suddenly we find ourselves at a so-called seam in what is, through knots and stitches, becoming someone’s patchwork quilt, the story of a life that we know so very well, that we hold as if our own.
these benchmarks, these stitched-together places, this is where we pause, and slip into double time, meaning we live in the moment on one plane, and in the inner plane we live on whatever speed we choose, as we so naturally fall into the sifting, stitching, marveling that got us all to here.
it’s why, as a civilization, we mark all sorts of time, of episodes, of chapters. from year to year of sun, or month to month of moon, we grab hold of any chance, it seems, to measure who we are, and how we’ve grown, as we pass the mile marks along the way: birth. birthday. end of every school year. holy anniversary.
we seem to want, to need, to play it back again. to spiral back and forth in time and space, if only in our minds and hearts, as we press into our souls the whole of who we love, and watch anew from every angle.
i know the time-trick well. i’ve been watching, playing, for awhile, these past few months and weeks.
only now, with days to go, the tempo’s picking up, the hours of sleep are dwindling, i am hard at work sorting through the picture show that is the life i’ve loved so deeply dearly: my firstborn’s years at home, my firstborn’s school years, his growing up years, his baby years and toddler years, his going-off-to-school years.
the ones i’ve known so intimately. the ones i alone recite, in the incantation of motherhood, the shadows and the light that got us here.
the tickets now are tucked in the slot where all the mail is kept. the white dinner jacket will soon hang in the upstairs closet. the grandparents should be walking in the door any minute now.
the time has come.
and i’ve milked the richness from the marrow. i have played and replayed so many scenes. i’ve stockpiled all it took to get here.
and when, on sunday eve, i look down on that flowing river of white gowns and white dinner jackets, i will more than likely be awash in joyful tears, satisfied tears, knowing tears.
i will have gathered up the frames, one by one, of the whole of this boy’s life with mine. and i will whisper holy thanks for the riches deep inside that this picture show has brought. the looping story that will never ever end.
i must bow on bended knee, and open wide the prayers inside my heart, to thank the Lord on High, who brought me long ago my deepest dearest hope: to be the mother to a child who would forever be my teacher.
and now, if you care to let it spill, what’s the picture show playing in the house that you call home?
that’s my firstborn, up above, on his first day of kindergarten, outside the gothic castle that is the laboratory schools of the university of chicago. that’s his best chumley from those sweet sweet days and years, more like brother and sister those two, and her mama, my beloved motherfriend, the rarest of gifts she was and is. they’ll both be here on sunday morn as we mark the moment with a family brunch.
it is just those snapshots that have filled me up so very much in recent days, as i hold each to the light. and marvel.
Congratulations and good luck to your Will, and to you and your husband, the proud parents of the graduate! This is the moment you all have been working toward for so many years. Sunday’s moments will join all the others in your picture box, and those tears you cry will seal them into your memory forever. I hope you and your entire family enjoy the moment and have a great celebration in honor of Will’s hard work.
“we live in the moment on one plane, and in the inner plane we live on whatever speed we choose”I especially love the concept you bring up in relation to a person still being able to live life at their own pace despite how life continues with its own speed. When memory holds not only the course of events but also the meaning created within a moment, a comforting sense of timelessness can be achieved, for even if the pictures fade, the emotions can still remain as vivid as they were during the actual moment itself. You are quite fortunate to have so many meaningful memories about those you care deeply about.For me, replaying through moments passed serves not only as fond reminder of how I came to be where I am now but also as a guiding motivation toward where I seek to progress from here on. There was a time in my life when I could only forge memories of events without meaning, and during this time I had also met a very dear friend of mine. Over a years worth of events spent together were etched into my mind, yet until now, it had always felt as though the moments in those memories were elusive. Only after I became more aware of life did I realize that perhaps there had been more to the fall visit to a nearby pumpkin farm where we marveled at palm-sized squashes and listened to screeching monkeys that were brought for a temporary zoo for a festival…more to the nights I would watch over him when medication rendered him nearly listless…more to the few visits he made each year since he actually wasn’t from this country. Upon the realization that there could be more to a memory than just events, I had made it a point to immerse myself more deeply in the moments I would spend with him from then on so that perhaps I would also be able to hold on to some meaning in addition to those events.By some unknown miracle, since that same realization, I also became more able to find bits of meaning in the earlier memories of us that I would often replay. I became more able to remember more recent meaningful moments made with family and other friends as well. Those new found abilities are ones that I greatly treasure from this year and ones that I will surely continue to cherish in the years to come.
bam, Jack has said it more perfectly than I ever could. May blessings rain down with the tears, that you all may be happy and joy-filled this day and always. Amen!
A physicist spoke of Time on NPR last week but never so eloquently as you have. Congratulations to Will and all of you. It has been a beautiful 18 years with so many memories to still be made. Thank you for letting us share them also. (J rode his bike up to Loyola yesterday but never made it farther or he would have called you.) Have the best summer!
bless you, each and all, for bringing your collected and unique wisdoms to this table, for bringing your blessings to my boy and to all those around and beyond us who reach seams in the patchwork of our lives. bless all the ones i love who got will to where he is, because they so selflessly shared their sparks, their hearts, their blood and sweat and hope and tears and unflagging faith. bless that little girl in the picture up above, who wraps her arm around his shoulder, who shields him. bless us all who wrap our arms around each other and get along together….aiming for the vistas up around the bend….
[…] now put words to screen through every round of this kid’s graduations: eighth grade, high school, and, now, college. there will, god willing, be a law school graduation for my scholar child, the […]