i have always been petrified by the passage of time; that i would forget sweet and wonderful and delicious and beautiful things, never to be recovered. like grains of sand swept out to sea, rendered unrecognizable when they are returned to the shore with the tide, i feared losing all traces of them.
even as a little girl, i can recall lying awake and feeling panicky, as i imagined not remembering all sorts of things in my life: moments, tastes, smells, feelings, people, names, faces, experiences. i have always been so so scared that as time went on, i would forget, i would lose sight, and lose track, and lose…i don’t know what. become lost, in general?
as i grew older, i compensated for this terror by capturing moments, in a near-obsessive fashion via writing, photographs, music, and sometimes, keepsakes. i hold on to them, to help transport me back to the things i won’t remember.
so you can understand the irony of that anxious little girl becoming a woman whose world has been rocked by memories that i purposely forgot, as a way to survive my childhood. memories that i didn’t want to remember, or revisit, or be transported towards.
right now, there are lumps in various places in my wife’s body. we don’t know their nature, or their intentions, but they have cast new lines in her face and shadows under her eyes. they make her wince, interrupt her sleep, make wearing certain types of clothing uncomfortable, and have inflamed her lymph system. they are showing themselves on ultrasound, they are physically palpable, and they are getting louder and more threatening.
tomorrow, we find out who they are. or hopefully, who they are not.
and all i keep thinking is, as the hot stupid babyish tears flood my eyes, seventeen years is not enough. please, please, please let us have more time.
a couple of my favourite songs have the word time in the title. this ani difranco song. this version of time after time. and, for days, through the seemingly-permanent lump in my windpipe, i’ve found myself humming this verse (from this version of sting’s beautiful, musical poem – so much love and thanks to pocketbrit for reminding me of it):
i never made promises lightly/and there have been some that i’ve broken/but i swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold/we will walk in fields of gold
every once in awhile, i get lost in my google drive, looking at photos and videos. me, her, our daughter…faces fuller or thinner, hair all shades and lengths, baby turning chubby toddler turning sassy willowy girl-child. sunsets, holidays, ordinary days, snow, sun, fog, rain. friends past and present, family past and present.
the times before we knew, and the times after. we don’t look much different, but everything is different, all of it changed.
i’ve said it before, even here, some point in the past twenty-three days, that i’m not sure i have enough life left, enough time, to actually sort through all the mess of what i forgot. and lately, there is so much fucking grief; it’s everywhere, and it’s sticking to all my old throbbing wounds and my new scary ones about ticking clocks and draining hourglasses and please, goddess or god or universe or whoever is in charge, i just need more time.
in the midst of this terror of loss, though, are flashes of memories, of smells, of sights, of sounds…tethers to the past i did not purposefully garner: the huge furry head of my beloved first pet, giggling as his wet warm doggy breath in my ears sent shivers down my spine…the lusty wail of our wee girl, shock of dark wet hair, as she first emerged from my body…the warm doughy smell of my grandmother’s apron against my cheek, as i pressed myself into the refuge of her lap…slipping a silver band smoothly over her finger on our wedding day, her joints yet-unravished by disease…the tickly whiskers of a now-aged cat against the curve of my calves…the upside-down views of the world from my dangling perch on the monkeybars in our front yard…the acrid smell of incense competing with cloying frangipani blooms in the heavy, damp monsoon evenings of mumbai…
i didn’t take pictures of any of these moments, have no visual or audible recordings or keepsakes. i’ve no proof that they happened at all. and yet…tonight, they arise, unbidden, flushing me with comfort and warmth and reassurance. as maybe, the timestamps of my life will reveal themselves, and fade, as they are meant to. maybe there are thousands of days left, maybe there are endless fields of gold. maybe it will be okay. maybe it will be okay.