A Slippery Fish

Time is a slippery fish. Perhaps the most slippery of them all. Just when you think you’ve got a good hold, time gets away again.

But memory is a map made entirely of landmarks. As you move through year after year, your mind and body turn the corners of those landmark days, often without your conscious notice.

My niece begins her trek to college today. I will give her air hugs from my porch this evening so as not to transmit the in-house COVID case to her. So sweet. A little bitter. A new landmark growing up entwined with an older one.

Today is also the day my nephew died a dozen years ago. The last time he spoke to me was the evening his family ate pizza at my house before he set off for basic combat training. That night was so sweet and a little bitter. Today twelve years ago was swallowed in bitterness.

My niece was almost six then.

Time is a slippery fish.

I cannot tell you the fullness of this family’s story. We are all threads of variegation woven into a tapestry without fully appreciating our unique necessity to the design. I can tell you that no thread ever ends. Every thread is carried forward by connection to the others.

For one brief day, two threads hold the space. They are beautiful. All the more because they share a landmark in our family’s tapestry and our individual memories.

The advantage of age is that you’ve moved through more of the tapestry. You become more aware of the rhythms of the weaving. Years begin to glide by as one landmark after another has its turn.

Time is a slippery fish.


To Andy with Love

I wrote this on my brother’s birthday six years ago, which also happened to be the last day I saw my nephew well. I knew everything was changing, but I miscalculated badly.

Today, on what would be Andy’s 24th birthday, I remember letting him go the first and least painful time.


To Andy with Love

  • Originally posted on a 6s community, June 7, 2010 at 9:34pm

I bade farewell with hugs and admonitions to my eldest nephew tonight after sharing pizza and brownie bites.

He said, “I give up my free will tomorrow,” and I know this has been a calculated decision, but I struggle to understand it when he says things like that.

It’s like the rest of us – his family – saying we’ll send three letters a week, perfumed and lipsticked, or we’ll send tobacco, or we’ll send a hundred cards for his eighteenth birthday he’ll have while away; he smirked a thanks-a-lot-guys-I-love-you-too, knowing we’d never hurt him for anything but struggling, perhaps, to understand his pestersome relatives.

We all face the apprehension of his first wingspan. We have waited and wanted and prepared and taught and laughed and disciplined and loved; yet, the moment of first flight crept in on cat feet.

This was going to be a post about the insanity of calling military training ‘boot camp’ (as if S’mores were involved!) or ‘basic training’ (I’m 32, and I’ve never been trained in what he’s about to experience), but as you can see, I needed rather to reflect on the man he became when I wasn’t looking and to consider the weed-like speed with which my own children grow and to catch my breath before I greet another ‘last’.

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