I distinctly remember the moment that my perspective of time and its passage was transformed. It was a little over a year ago, the day after Christmas, when my husband and I first brought our new daughter home from the hospital. The three of us were cuddled up on the couch, Mia asleep warm and peaceful between Vinny and me and without looking up from her, he said quietly, “I’m in love.” It was remarkably beautiful – this breathtaking moment in which the man I love professed his affection for the tiny human being we’d just been blessed with – and just like that, it was gone. The seconds ticked by silently and I tried desperately to reach out with my heart and grasp that seamless sense of peace that had embraced me only an instant earlier as those words left his lips but it was futile. Whatever it was, had gone – vanished with the passage of time that incessantly tick tick ticks by, dragging with it so many magnificent moments and emotional highs.
My only reaction to this strange failure to grasp a point in time was despair and of course my body’s response to feelings of despair is to cry. It wasn’t a sentimental cry with gentle tears streaming serenely down my cheeks and tender sniffles decorating the room’s silence. Far from it. This was an absurdly unfeminine, jerky fit of deep blubbering and hiccup sprinkled sobs. Tears and snot emerged proudly upon my face, completely eradicating the peaceful occasion as my sleeve promptly converted itself into a Kleenex.
I tried to explain to Vinny what was happening in my mind and of course, he successfully calmed me down and reassured me that the best was yet to come. The seed, however, had been planted and a bitter grudge against the rapid passage of time was officially growing in my soul. I slowly developed an awareness of how fast the days were over and no matter how wonderful one might be, it would promptly be coming to a close and before I knew it, another one would be upon us. It became exceedingly difficult for me to enjoy a single moment because in the back of my mind lurked the knowledge that it would soon be behind us.
In the months that passed, I noticed this particularly after a good run. Endorphins would be having their way with me, sending my mood soaring as if no amount of poop or spit-up could touch my temper. I’d sit there rocking the baby, proud of the miles I’d completed but simultaneously thinking, If I want to feel this good tomorrow, I have to do that again. It was maddening. Why can’t the joyful little pieces of the day – endorphins, baby smiles and cuddles, butterflies from flirting with a husband (mine, I mean) or side-splitting laughter – be carried into tomorrow and leave us high on life then, too?
For months this bitterness sat in me, untouched but lurking infuriatingly all the more like Clark Griswold’s unwelcome cousin Eddie and his mobile home. What was I supposed to do? To make matters worse, as a new parent, I was constantly being reminded, “Enjoy it while she’s young because it’ll be over before you know it!” and other such depressing shards of what people consider advice.
It wasn’t until recently, several days after I’d completely weaned the baby, that God decided it was time to do something about my morbid perception of time. Mia fell asleep in my arms one day and I found myself grieving the fact that our days of nursing were behind us. I stared at her sweet, innocent little rose lips as tiny, feathery snores rolled forth and before I knew it, I was the same sobbing, blubbering wreck I’d been that day on the couch after Christmas. Through some miracle, she didn’t wake up from the motion or noise of my crying so I didn’t put her down. I just held her warm, sleeping, almost one-year-old body and wept for longer than I care to admit. I grieved the end of nursing this baby and wondered why time must present us with such beautiful moments and then snatch them away like the bitter Indian giver it is.
Finally, after I’d laid her down and managed to compose myself, I found myself on the phone. Rachel to the rescue. I say that more and more these days as I realize how frequently God speaks to me through this irreplaceable companion even though we’re 400 miles apart. She somehow has a knack for saying exactly what I need to hear and that day, I could tell she was fighting a cold and rolling a cough drop around in her mouth. She didn’t miss a beat though. When I described to her how disturbing it was to me that moments of joy are so fleeting, she calmly replied, “They’re supposed to be that way. They’re meant to serve as both a reminder that perfect happiness is not here and also a preview of the eternal bliss that awaits us in heaven.”
Ah, of course. Suddenly the pieces began to fall into place and I felt myself forgiving Father Time for all those stolen moments of ecstasy that I couldn’t hold onto. For the past year, I’d been resenting his incessant presence in my life that seemed to ruin every good instant by bringing it to an end. What I needed was a change of perspective and to realize that time is simply a traveling companion on this journey toward Heaven, whisking me through the trials while frequently providing beautiful glimpses of the eternal life that awaits us at the end of this road.
We can’t stop it from passing when we find ourselves in ecstasy and we can’t speed it up when the going gets tough. All we can do is work with it, not against it, and thank God for the strange, incomprehensible gift that it is.
There will be moments in this life, countless moments, that deeply arouse our rejoicing hearts and have our souls singing for glory. All we can do is allow them to come, thank time’s great creator for sending them our way, and then rest in the faith that one day they will return to us and remain for all eternity.
I guess the Rolling Stones were onto something: “Time is on my side.” Yes, it is.
Food (sure, a cough drop counts) for thought: Are there certain periods of my life that I wish I could return to instead of looking ahead to the joy that is to come?