Words give shape to this life, to feelings, to experiences.
I remember going through the end of a relationship, and just deciding that it was just a “thing” that happened and one minute it existed and the next it was gone. So, I didn’t put many words around that grief. I didn’t give it shape – meaning – purpose – I just sort of let it ooze and leak and evaporate away. I shrugged it off.
In stark contrast, when Frank and I started dating, we could not use enough WORDS. We wrote each other letters and emails and text messages. I saved those text messages as long as I could until I changed cellphone providers one too many times and the texts were gone.
Every moment of our relationship was (and still is) painted in words. Love, hope, happiness, expectation, dreams – all carefully spoken and written and envisioned.
Even the messy moments have words. Well, sometimes they have raised eyebrows, crossed arms and wrinkled noses. It’s quite the picture – and you know what they say about pictures…
Still, with all of these words, there are still memories that feel like vapor – moving through me with all of the emotion and feeling of the moments they represent – and then vanishing when I try to inspect them.
This weekend. Church. Familiar words of a song, ripped from the same Bible verses as another song. A light, happy mood coupled with the weight of the week hanging in the background triggered a memory and a moment from fifteen years ago.
… for I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God…
Driving – the ultimate teenage freedom – in an old, blue jeep. It didn’t matter what the car looked like, as long as there was gas and a working radio.
Wherever. Movies, parks, festivals. Whatever. A nagging sense that these moments were fleeting. A quickly squashed thought: we won’t be young forever.
Friends. Singing. Warm air through the windows. A mid-summer sun sifting through the clouds on the western horizon.
If time was money, we were millionaires without a wallet.
And just like the many mornings I wake up to tell Frank of my dreams, the words don’t come fast enough and the end results are just vague meanderings without any of the important elements of the story.
Idyllic suburban setting. Typical teenage experience. Yawn.
But… it was so much more. It was my life.
Like water through my fingers, those days are gone and I find myself wishing the words would come faster so that I could wrap myself around them, but instead I am sucking ether.
And so here I am tonight. My children are escape artists with no interest in sleeping. Specifically, Carrie is amused by her own agility at leaping out of her crib, pleased with herself that she no longer bangs her face on the crib railing during the descent.
On the third time I’ve gone up the stairs, turned left and looked to their room, I find myself stifling a laugh.
Carrie has quickly shut the door, but is hanging on to the handle for dear life. From outside of the room, the lever door handle is angled peculiarly in the down position. She must know that this is the third time and this time I will not rock her in the chair and call her my angel and smell her straight light brown/dark blond hair. She must know that this time, I must.not.laugh because I must be MOM. A force of gentle justice at bedtime. The woman who knows better.
But for a few seconds, looking at that door handle, I am two years old. I am her peer. I know the adrenaline running through her as she waits for me to find her on the other side of the door – out of her bed – again. I know this because that was me once.
It takes a hiccup of time- for me to swallow the giggle and remind myself that to cave is to create a child who will.never.sleep. I open the door, swoop her into my arms and place her firmly into her crib. She knows. I know. We cannot make eye contact or we will break the fourth wall. If we do, we will be forced to acknowledge that I am a child, a teenager, an irresponsible college student, who somehow is a mother. Someone has to be in charge, here. It’s me.
When I finally leave her room, letting the door softly click behind me, I think – will I remember this?
Are mountains made of these quickly forgotten moments?