Only the view is unchanged

6 Jun

We went to Vermont memorial day weekend to finally bury my mother-in-law.  We packed up her house, and brought back much of it.

My daughter sleeps with a pillow off of her sofa because it smells like her house.

This is now the view from MY living room corner, not hers.

I sit in this chair, the one I sat in at her house all the time, put my drink on this table, the one I set my drink on for years, next to this lamp that lit many late night conversations and look at this sofa that holds so may family memories.

Its funny how quickly time passes.  We packed up photo mugs that we gave as Christmas presents, ones with pictures of a tiny two-year-old Tyler, one with tiny baby Riley foot prints stamped on the side. We gave them as gifts, and gifts you keep forever. They were special keepsakes, the kinds of things you hold on to always.  But forever has come and gone. Always is over. How fleeting that was.  Tyler is a grown man living in his own apartment, paying his own way. Riley is careening toward adulthood at breakneck speed.
When my mother died in 2001, everyone agreed it was a great tragedy because she was so relatively “young” at 63 and still very much at the peak of a late blooming career.  It said nothing about the fleeting nature of life, only about the great unfairness that sometimes takes someone too early.

But my in-laws, particularly my mother in law, they were ready.  She was irritated when her cancer briefly abated and she lost her hospice housekeeper, because she liked the help and was ready to go anyway.  Packing her life up, divvying it into piles, my pile, your pile, donation pile, my sister in law and I shared tears, and laughter and the incredible gut punch that passing time offers those lucky enough to experience it.

Looking at relics from her childhood, her life as a single adult, her life as a young mother, and her life as a grandmother it occurred to me how many of those phases I’ve passed through, and how few are left.  Granted, I’m hopeful the last phase will be a nice long one, I’m only 42 for heaven’s sake. But it passes so quickly. How could so many of life’s great adventures be over for me??

Just look at these kids! Not babies any more. Not for a long time. Soon it will be there turn to clean out houses and pack up forever.

We capped off our weekend at my father’s house in Doylestown for memorial day. I spent the day with my friend Jackie, watching the parade from the porch where, upon our meeting in 1972, she told me to “get off her property.”  (Our girls, looking strikingly like a young Jackie and Jennifer 30 years ago.)

She’s the closest thing I have to a sibling and it was nice to spend the day with her, even if it is another reminder of time and people lost.   More than anything its a reminder to me to take a look at every second that passes by, enjoy it, savor it. Even the painful seconds are precious when you realize that all together they add up to the sum total of our wonderful lives.   I’ve been so busy the last few months I let the bucket attitude/list slide but I am reinvigorated now to pursue every day as if it is a rare and precious experience.

Because really, when you get down to it, it truly is.

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