THE SPEED OF LIGHT
After my last and final fill last week, four weeks before the fifth month, I am in awe of how much time has flown by. This time machine speed of light is accentuated by bringing my son to college again but this time for his sophomore year. The ease of the drop off as he did most of the packing and reminding himself this time around of what to bring. Less reminding from his parents, less nagging from his mother, less stuff overall. TV, Fridge, microwave, and sneaking cans of Bud light left over from this summer into his college fridge along with the killer wardrobe I bought for him yesterday at Banana Republic after a nice brunch at Elis’ in Warren, RI about summed up his combination of inventory for his college move in. This year his room is on the second floor and he has a good size room sharing only with one other roommate as opposed to three in a room. A bigger space with more breathing room and a new roommate he gets to connect with as I watch my son turn into a man overnight it seems. My son is smart and kind and I love watching this part of parenting, Dave and I are lucky to get to enjoy this part of our lives, it is something we only imagined just nineteen short years ago when it seemed like even kindergarten would never come. And just like that, here we are, entering the end of the first half of his first half of college. More relaxed, calmer, less nervous, more confident, a joy to watch.
I have to say that there are these timestamps in parenting that give me great pause. Without sounding morose, the way a funeral allows one to reflect and appreciate more of the present time despite the very dark feelings of grief and sadness, there are moments in time when your child is growing so fast you can barely take a breath and some of the peppery spice you can’t do anything but notice falls into your life by these times. So many firsts. First days of kindergarten, and listening to him chant from the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah, watching his face on our first travel outside the country, buying a coveted video game for him to help him get over his adolescent first broken heart, having to tell him that his parents were divorcing and watching his eyes fill with tears, starting his freshman year of high school and watching him get the only home run for his first season on the freshman baseball team. Watching him get cut his junior year of the same high school and find himself in having to step away from the only sport he ever played. Visiting colleges in the south and coming to the realization that RI wasn’t such a bad place to stay put in for his college years. High school graduation and my mother not attending because she was mad at me (again). Then there was the telling him that I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time and then the second time. These are only the major periods, there are so many commas between these stories and they are recorded through the endless streams of photos locked away in my icloud settings waiting for the day that I make the time to sift through them and make all of those photo albums I intend.
Where does the time go becomes a permanent question I ask daily as I contemplate my upcoming final surgery and life seems so shortened because of all of this. Learning about the BRCA 2 genetic mutation that like a bad sci fi movie has infiltrated my family line like an evil colony takeover and trying not to overworry when I learn that my Doctor wants my son to be tested. Then the final period in the story of genetics learning that my son in fact is also now part of the lineup making him the fifth known generation on my grandmother’s side to have this frustrating mishap in his genes. What the fuck. Grandmother Isabelle, breast cancer in 1957, Great grandfather, Murray, (her dad, my great grandfather) “stomach” cancer in 1959 taking his life way too young, my brother carcinoma of the lung in 1995 taking his life way way too young, my father, esophagus cancer in 2011 taking his life, his sister, my aunt, getting uterine cancer around the same time about 60, luckily she is a warrior and is still fighting the fight because she was a healthy chick going in. Then me in 2015 at 50 getting breast cancer and all of us finding out that the link is that fucking gene. Finding out that my son shares this is almost a surreal experience as I ponder the ways of the world and the life coming at me I seem to always be on the receiving end. Then I consider the comparisons of places like Houston and even worse the crazy exodus of yet another group of people whose religious beliefs don’t jive with another in Bangladesh and I realize how lucky I am.
Isn’t that crazy resilience? I am past wallowing and commiserating because the reality is that I love my life and I love my son’s life so I take this latest with the grain of salt it is and try not turn it into a pile. I just try to remember that these darts flying towards all of us are a good reminder to stop and smell the proverbial roses way more often than I already do. And believe me when I say I smell the roses way more than most. I embrace the roses, I bathe in their delicious fragrance and I never take them for granted because before you know it the season is over and you are wishing for one more smell of them and the smell is only a faint memory in reflection. I am grateful I take the time to bend down when I see one and inhale. This is life in its pure powerful joyful present.