The Present, for Alex

June 25, 2016 at 10:20 am 2 comments

88_SL_BethAlex_dockFor the past two months, I have been straddling the past and present, just barely keeping my balance.

For better or worse, human memory has no over-write function. There’s no software update. New files don’t replace old ones. All the memories co-exist. We are able to consider multiple moments, all at once, in a way that feels the same as current events.

So I can mourn the passing of a legendary family friend while hearing his laugh. I can attend the funeral of my Dad’s childhood pal, while still expecting to see him two weeks later when we walk into Bob Evans for breakfast.

I can attend four different birthday parties for people in their 80s and still be at the kids’ table.

I can watch a young woman get married and recall the day she was born. (I will do that today.)

And tomorrow? Tomorrow, I will attend my nephew Alex’ party—to celebrate that he has graduated from high school.

And, bam!, my balance fails. And I am tumbling back and back and back.

Right here and now:

  • I can feel the tiny weight of him in the crook of my arm, that night I drove to Maryland to say hello.
  • We are on the dock in Stoneboro, dangling his feet into Sandy Lake.
  • He is snuggled on my lap watching A Bug’s Life after a tough evening of building blanket tents.
  • There is nothing funnier in the whole world than him and his sister feeding me cold, mushy French fries.
  • We are Trick or Treating.
  • He is making pun after pun after pun, having learned that there is a Simpsons character called “a-pooh.”
  • I am learning to play Super Mario and he is so much better at it than I am.
  • I am hugging him goodnight and he is, suddenly, quite tall.
  • I am wrapping his graduation gift and thinking about him going off to college.

I tumble back again.

He is sitting on the floor and has tucked himself in behind the kitchen table . . . because the whale is about to swallow Pinocchio in the living room.

I can see urgency in that sweet little face. I see him waving me in.

And the whale has swallowed me whole. I am out of my depth, blinking back the sea.

And then.

Sometimes, in the resurfacing of a memory, you find treasure.

As I scrunched and scooched into that hiding spot beside him, I was there because I didn’t want him to be afraid. I was being an Aunt. I was being a grown-up. When he turned to me—I see it so clearly—he looked happy, relieved, conspiratorial. He did not look like a boy who was in need of protection. He looked like he was relieved to see that I was hiding also. He was glad that I had understood his warning.

We are sitting there, and he is telling me, in whispers, about the whale. He is telling me this is a good spot. He is telling me it will be okay in a little while.

And, of course, it is going to be okay. He’s going to be fine at college.

And just as soon as I’m able, I’m going crawl out from behind the table and tie a bow on the present.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , , .

On a Serious Note . . . Let’s Be Friends

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Angie Parsons  |  June 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    You are awesome. That simple.



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