Thanks De La Vega for Reminding Me Life is Short

25 Jul

It’s a terrible reminder.  Terribly important.  I’m drinking my morning coffee out of a cup that tells me, “This moment is more precious than you think.”  I chose to torture myself with this reminder when I bought the cup from the little shop that James De La Vega had in the East Village on St. Marks, across from Yaffa Cafe.  The shop’s no longer there, and I haven’t seen the street artist turned politician turned back to artist since.

So as I had my morning coffee, I let the message sink in, and I paid attention to what my three-year-old was saying.  More specifically, I paid attention to her words.  Today, instead of saying “yesterday,” she says “last day.”  Today, when she tells me she wants milk, and I say, “How do you ask nicely,” she still says, “Please will you have some milk?”

I also listened to all those people on Facebook, who in the face of tragedy tell us all to hug our loved ones a little closer, to appreciate the moments with them.  It’s not just in times of tragedy we should be remembering to do this.  I held her close this morning when she was saying these words that I know will be spoken “correctly” soon enough.  Her vocabulary is nearly already fully developed, and we have discussions about homonyms, and what words like “appear” and “disappear” mean.  She’s a word person, too, like me, which is all the more reason I love listening to how her voice expresses her mind’s thoughts.  There’s a purity and innate sensical-ness to it.  When I held her close, I kissed her hair and could smell that still little child smell she has, no longer baby but traces of it.  I was late getting her to school, which is not unusual.  There is a balance between enjoying the preciousness of those moments and living in a scheduled life.  But sometimes the balance is ignored, and we seize those moments, as we should.

Today, there were more things that I noticed in the moment but my memory can’t keep up with the moments.  And that makes me very sad.  I have said that there is nothing so painful or joyous as being a parent.  Long before my younger daughter was born, I remember recognizing how it hurt that my older daughter’s childhood was gone.  I remember the first time that it struck me like a white-hot knife that I would never ever feel what it was like to hold her the way I did when she was three.  Life wasn’t entirely easy back then (young, single mom stuff and life in general stuff).  When she knew I was sad, she would gently pat my back, old little soul that she was.  Even just the memory of that, grateful as I was for it, gave me such an aching in my heart when I knew it was gone for good.  That’s when I realized the hardest part of parenting is simply the vast and boundless love it brings.

Twenty years later, I am keenly aware of the fleeting nature of these moments, and hold dear the experience of them, even though my memory is not big enough to hold close all that the heart does.

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