Every so often you get a kick in the face from Time. He’s a sneaky son of a gun like that.
Just when you think things are plugging along just as always — work, home, sleep, repeat — you wake up one day and your daughter’s squishy toddler legs are gone. In their place are these long spindly limbs, covered with delicate little bruises from distances she didn’t quite gauge, misplaced over-exuberance, spinning out of control like Time himself.
Time flies. Time crawls. Time surprises you with a roundhouse kick to the face.
All of a sudden you are fielding the summer wardrobe from school with instructions to send a new parcel of back-up clothes. As you sift through the clothes you sent in June, you pull out a pair of too-small shoes. Jeans that are too short. A T-shirt that has turned into a cropped top.
She must have shot up 3 inches. But how did Time manage this trick? You were there the entire time, watching, but didn’t see it, not really.
You notice there’s a gray hair on your head. Lines are starting to change your face a little, gradually, as Time has threatened to do since you were a kid and you thought 35 was sooooo old. Like, soooooooooo old.
Like it always does, Sept. 11 comes and goes. You read the stories, but you do not have to because you remember that day with every fiber of your being. You remember the fear and the adrenaline and the overwhelming sadness. You can never unsee what you saw unfolding on CNN that morning. You knew a friend who knew a friends who knew …
Inexplicably it has been 13 years. How did that happen, Time?
Was it like this for our parents when they were asked to name where they were when Kennedy was shot? Did our parents remember with great detail because it happened to them just yesterday, too, and Time had also given them gray hair without their consent while they were working and raising kids and living life?
Some day in the near future you will be in that boat, too. Your daughter will ask you about Sept. 11, and you will know that no matter how much she reads or hears about it, she will never understand the entirety of the Before and After of it. How the attacks were a cruel entry into your adult world, in the worst metaphor anyone could imagine.
How flying used to be fun. How it felt to have to wait for a TV show to air. How it was before the Internet. How kids used to freely play outside until dark without adult supervision.
Time, that jerk. Ebbing and flowing, always relentless. Like the surf at the beach, rolling in ever so steadily.
A few choice waves may knock you down, but you get back up, dripping wet and noticing, again, that the back-up pants you brought are too small.
“Mama, these don’t fit!” your daughter says. She squeezes into them anyway, tearful because the day at the beach is over.The sun is setting because Time keeps rolling on.
What she doesn’t realize is that Time has just started rolling for her.