Our clocks are unyielding. They stretch across time like marching soldiers going to war. Nothing will deter its advancement forward, no matter how much we beg.
My girls are getting older-both are teenagers. One just entered into this milestone, and the other one is on the verge of driving. I was laying in bed thinking about all of their transitions in life, our transitions in life, and I wish I had a heads-up when each milestone in their lives was going to end before the next one began.
Our babies grow out of onesies and into a shirt and pants, but when was the very last time we snapped our child into a onesie? If time tapped me on the shoulder and kindly alerted me to this passing of the baton, I would have savored my last moment of dressing my child in what I had lovingly packed away in her drawer while anticipating her arrival.
When our babies walk for the first time, we are so celebratory of that moment that we fail to notice something else came to an end. It isn’t until months later we realize our now mobile child, who feels they now can rule the world, crawled for the last time, and before that, rolled over for the last time. If I had known that day would be the last day before time wafted that moment like a sheet in the wind, I would have savored my baby rolling to get closer to her toy or performed crawl races with her, so I could watch her flying effortlessly on her knees.
I puffed up with pride the moments my daughters walked unassisted and shifted a little closer to independence, but now I wonder about the last time I held my hands out to support my wobbly child, or the last time she needed my extended finger for stability? These moments escape so unnoticed until they are noticed years after they disappeared.
I am not asking time to stand still. I am merely requesting an “ahem” or elbow nudge to let me know when this page turns, it can never be turned back again.
I can’t remember when my daughters became so big that holding them became too difficult. Their weight and height outgrew my strength, and I had to tell them, “Sorry, mommy can’t hold you.” The last time I was able to carry her in my arms, I may have held on for a little longer if I had known it was coming to an end. I can probably imagine myself internally grumbling from struggling to hold my now hefty child, but if I knew I would never have that chance again, I think I would have loved through those minutes instead of wishing them away.
I guess I am just having a hard time discerning these transitions and wondering when did they occur. Did I think I still had a chance to experience these things one last time or that the finality of them wasn’t real?
My oldest daughter loved digging up worms and filling her plastic cup to the brim. She would sit for long periods of time with her pink shovel softly digging in the wet ground as she carefully exhumed each one. Dirt wiggled in her cup, and she lovingly carried around the fruits of her work. I never noticed the day her shovel became idle or her cup remained empty. If I knew it was the last time she decided this was a fun activity, I would have stopped everything to dig in the dirt with her.
My youngest daughter loved oranges and frequently ran around the house to find me. She’d lift her arms up to get my attention wanting me to help her peel them. I am pretty sure I was happy when she could eventually do this on her own. I look back now and wish I had known it would be the last time I peeled her orange for her before her independence just took another giant leap forward. I think I would better be able to savor that moment than fly through it impatiently since I had a million other things to do.
I think we spend so much time looking over the horizon at what is coming ahead, deciding this will be a better time, that we miss the time right in front of our eyes.
I know many of us can relate to losing a loved one. When my mom passed, I wish the last time she came to my house before she got too sick to leave hers was known to us all. We could have turned that visit into a celebration rather than the normal routine it had become.
I also wasn’t made aware of the last time I savored a meal my mom made, because she was an amazing cook, before the hose providing her life-giving oxygen trapped her behind the four walls of her home. She tired easily. I wish I could remember the last time.
Time is cruel but a necessary entity. Unfortunately, it has yet to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you may want to savor this because it will be your last time.” If it would, I would be feeling a lot less nostalgic today as I watch my girls grow into women, and my losses of loved ones wouldn’t be with regrets of missed opportunities and words of love exchanged.
Time marches onward with purpose. It has to lack emotion, or it would bend and sway to our cries and pleas. God moves us forward, so we don’t sit where we stand or live where we press pause. Time is a force of nature created by God for His divine purpose. In heaven, I understand there is no time. There won’t be a need or purpose for it. We will be reveling in the moments where we stand with our Lord and Savior. That is the moment we will want freeze in time forever.
In the meantime, on this strange and exasperating side of the divide, we have to live with the fact that our moments will be fleeting, our lives will be measured in time and milestones, and in military fashion, we will be forced to march forward no matter what the circumstances may be. We are marching forward for a reason, but as we do, let’s not take away from what is right before us by craning our necks to see what is around the bend. We should leave that up to God to determine. Our present is a gift for a reason.