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.