Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Around and around

Sometimes I can't tell if it's making me happy or sad to look at a picture. I just know that my chest aches and I have to close my eyes for a minute and it feels like something heavy has settled just below my lungs. It's a feeling that makes me want to stop, to look away. And yet there's a pull there, too; a tug like love, or loss.

I feel it when I see this picture of Goldie. There we were at Disneyland, riding that ridiculous caterpillar ride. The worker told Goldie to put her hands up so he could check her seatbelt, but somehow Goldie interpreted that as an order to keep her hands in the air for the entire ride. (Reinforcing this idea was the fact that she'd seen other people doing it, on roller coasters.) So she sat there as the caterpillar train made its slow, silly way around the track; all rosy and wondering, holding up those little hands faithfully, not really understanding anything that was going on, but full of hope and confusion and obedience. Ready for this—whatever it was—to begin. Ready to like it. But still unsure. 

It makes tears come to my eyes as I write about it, for all the typical sentimental reasons—she's growing up too fast; she's got so many hard things ahead of her; how will I bear it?  And I suppose I'm also crying for all my other two-year-olds, cruelly replaced—somehow—by bigger, smarter, later models of themselves. Clever, funny, delightful models, to be sure—upgrades, almost certainly—but…well, the people they were are gone, and I miss them.

Experiencing it constantly doesn't make it any easier. It's a daily, constant cycle of death and rebirth: THAT baby is gone. THIS one remains. I can't claim to know the way a child's true loss feels, though I can imagine the pain when that cycle is halted; when the rebirth never comes and the ache of loss can't give way to the wonder of renewal. But it's pain enough when you sense the cycle happening without you being aware of it at all. THAT child, gone before you even thought to learn who she was. THIS child, full of promise and mystery, but already changing; already, again, almost gone.

It's too pessimistic, of course, to see every change as something to mourn. In my own progression, I go through the same cycle of selves, and I can say honestly that there's hardly a one I'm sorry to have left behind. Teenage insecurities? New-parent uncertainty? First-toddler smugness? I'm thrilled to see those in the rear-view mirror. And I can't wait to shed all the parts of myself that so horrify me at present—hopefully in exchange for peace, wisdom, patience, humility. Spiritually, I feel like the cycle of self-death and self-rebirth is mostly an upward spiral. But it still doesn't stop me from feeling the loss when I see that same cycle spinning so fast, way too fast, in the lives of my children.

And looking at sweet, innocent, trusting little Goldie up there…well…maybe the comparison is too sappy, but in some ways I think I can see ME there as well, and maybe that's another small part of the ache I feel. I can imagine myself setting off on this mortal journey, feeling excited and apprehensive all at once, and probably mostly clueless about what was to come. And now here I still am, holding on dutifully to the tiny bits of knowledge I've gained, bracing myself for the unknowns ahead, hopeful and trusting, but yes, just the slightest bit terrified as well—not sure about what's coming next, or if I'll like it, or if IT will like ME.

I have to remind myself that it's RIGHT, this cycle. It's what our Heavenly Father wanted us to experience. To hope and fail and love and grieve and press on. 

So we keep pressing on.

5 comments:

  1. I think that the speed at which the babies and kids grow and change is such a cruel thing in so many ways. So beautful and so right, but it breaks my heart into so many pieces all the time. I was just thinking about it tonight when I was holding Lucy. She had some shots today and her legs were sore and she was hot. She wanted to snuggle and suddenly I realized how long her legs are and how she's not fitting in my lap quite as well as she used to. I almost cried then. Then I thought about how she was so little not so long ago, and how much I just wanted to freeze her and keep her that way forever--but I didn't really want to because she never slept and she's so much better at that now. THEN I thought about how she'll be even bigger soon and I'll look back and this long but still short legged little one with the same feelings I have about the smaller version.
    Some of it is the last baby sentimentality, but most of it is just the pain of being a parent.

    I think maybe it's one of those things our spirits weren't really built to handle? Things have to be different in the eternities.

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    1. The pain of being a parent. Yes. It's like, I feel like because it's so universal, everyone will just think "oh please, get over it"---but really, every parent understands. And it actually comforts me a lot to think that it's somewhat temporary, unique to mortally. That, like you said, it will be different in the eternities. We'll be better able to cope. I hope!

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  2. Oh this post was so lovely and made me emotional. And even before your comparison, as I read about Goldie not really understanding what was going on but being full of hope and confusion and obedience; I wanted to shout, "Yes! Just like me!!"

    And, I know, we see it with all our kids like you said, but it doesn't make the wave of realization any less powerful when it hits. Just today I was looking at Mette and feeling so desperate almost over the knowledge, not just that she would leave this stage behind, but somehow that the eternal HER -- who had always existed and always would -- would never ever be this again. In all of FOREVER she would only be a two month old for a fleeting moment. And like you said so beautifully, it will be gone before I've even taken it in or learned who she is at this stage.

    I wonder though. I have some slight hope when I think over what I've been feeling about our mortal inabilities and weaknesses. Some undeveloped thought that maybe the loss is temporary because maybe someday these moments, these babies and stages will be so . . . I don't know . . . so truly a part of us, so perfectly remembered and so perfectly comprehended, that they in a way won't be gone at all. That maybe makes no sense. I can't quite find words for what I'm feeling.

    Anyway, lovely thought provoking stuff here in this post!

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    1. Thank you dear Nancy. It is nice to think that other parents are fretting, hurting over these same things. And I understand just what you are saying. I have hoped that same hope: that somehow, as eternal beings, we WILL be able to hold onto each moment. Living it as "the present" whenever we want to, so we won't have to mourn its loss. That somehow our babies will be able to progress and be their own people…but simultaneously, they can be our babies forever, as you said—perfectly remembered.

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    2. Well, you know. Not NICE that other parents are hurting. But, just comforting that it's so well-understood by others too. :)

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