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, the baby asleep warm and peaceful in the middle and without looking up from her, my husband 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 somehow grasp that seamless sense of peace that had embraced me only an instant earlier as those words left his lips; but it was futile. It was 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 sweet, sentimental cry with gentle tears streaming serenely down my cheeks and tender sniffles decorating the room’s silence. No, it was a fit of deep blubbering and hiccup sprinkled sobs that eradicating the peaceful occasion as my sleeve promptly converted itself into a Kleenex.
I tried to explain to my husband 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 me.
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. 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 something was finally done about my morbid perception of time. The baby 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 my crying so I didn’t put her down. I just held her warm, sleeping, 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.
Finally, after I’d laid her down and composed myself, I found myself on the phone with an old friend who somehow has a knack for saying exactly what I need to hear. I could tell she was fighting a cold and rolling a cough drop around in her mouth, but 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 remind us that perfect happiness isn’t here and to give a preview of the ecstacy that awaits after death.”
Suddenly the pieces began to fall into place and I felt myself forgiving Father Time for all those stolen moments of bliss 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, whisking me through the trials while frequently providing beautiful glimpses of what awaits at the end of the 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. We can only roll with it, not against it, and be thankful 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.