My daughter turned 4 years old last week.
In my usual fashion of course, I had a good cry about it.
This time it was in the bathroom stall at the movie theater. Staring down at the popcorn peppered floor, I thought about how the last 4 years slipped by me so fast.
I thought about why it is that time seems to go exponentially faster the older we get and the more we realize that every single one of our moments is only there for a flash, a blink, a mere blip on the cosmic screen.
Our lives condensed to a movie trailer of moments. Milestones. Birthdays and anniversaries; celebrations and occasions of all kinds–the mile markers by which often we often measure the distance of our lives.
Measures of the many moments I must have wasted on stupid shit over the course the last 4 years (and all of my years for that matter) and how I would never have them back or live them again.
Attempts to slow down the light-speed acceleration of my children as they keep zooming forward full speed, knowing that my efforts are futile and in the end, only a waste of those precious tick-tocks of the clock. How can it be that I blink my eye and I’m there again with her in that delivery room with her Daddy holding her for the first time and the falling in love and the new baby smell and swaddles and dresses and bows.
I have to stop myself now or I could go on grasping all night.
Grasping for just one more moment—just another feel of the downy soft blankets between my fingers and baby kisses and sleepy nursing in the night. The first smiles and riding so high in the swing it takes your breath away.
First steps and new toothy grins. Pencil markings in the door jam; the ladder from where we started—climbing the rungs up to where her curly head will rest higher against the molding as I mark another year,
another pocket full of memories.
Oh, if I could scoop you up in the palm of my hand! All those moments I never want to forget……that feel like they are slipping through my cupped hands no matter how tightly I squeeze them or pray that they hold what I can’t let go of but can’t hold onto.
It feels like forgetting. Grasping feels like forgetting. I don’t want to forget.
Her green binky.
His lovey made from Daddy’s old t-shirt.
Tiny fingers grasping onto comparatively giant digits and the way it seems impossible that every finger and toe is perfectly formed, perfectly tiny and pink and new.
The way my husband looked at me when he held our children for the first time. That first night in the hospital when our son was born that we couldn’t sleep despite our exhaustion, staring at him in wonder and awe; of the miracle of life of which we were now co-creators, a life that we now held in our hands.
And the instinctive clasping onto our fingers for new, yet somehow familiar full-grown versions of their own tiny digits, one finger being more than they can hold in their entire hand.
The synchronicity of the Universe never ceases to amaze me. Back from my cry in the theater bathroom tonight, as I returned to my seat and my daughter took my hand, I immediately noticed something different about the configuration of our hands.
As if my life were on the screen, I flashed back remembering the moment I first noticed the same phenomenon with my son, now almost 7. Lying in bed one night at bedtime as he took my hand, it quietly slipped into a comfortable spot it had never found before. The weaving together of our hands in a way they had never known before.
I never noticed until he slipped his little fingers between mine and squeezed them with all his might, that we had never held hands in this way because his hands could not yet stretch or reach; his fingers could not yet bridge that length—
Until that moment he had only found comfort with his hand hidden inside of mine, with me hanging onto him like I would never let him go.But now, her hand has found that same comfortable place, with her fingers locking between mine, bridging the gaps between yesterday and today and holding me in this moment right now. This one here and now. Where her fingers interlace with mine and are no longer so small.
Maybe that’s what our hands are really for. They were never meant to hold our memories in (that must be why they slip through our fingers like sand).
I have often sat and pondered the miracle of our hands. Their structure, their function,Their sensory and motor significance in our life and everything we use our hands for (nearly everything). But even more than that, the way they fit together with another hand (any other human hand). The way they interlock and connect. The way they draw together and complete the circuit.
So if grasping feels like forgetting—then maybe the keeping, is in the letting go.
Perhaps our hands are made to grasp the hand of another so they won’t be empty when we have to let go of our moments. When we open our hand and let go of the balloon.When we let go of all the moments filled with cheerio-scented kisses, and giggles and Goodnight Moon. So our hands are never empty and our hearts are always full. So here’s to not grasping onto things I know I cannot hold. Here’s to keeping what I have in my heart, by opening my hand–
and letting go.