We are on a Peter Pan bus steaming toward South Station, where Dad will pick us up before we meet the parents of Annie, Mike’s fiancee.
It’s a familiar ride.
When Dunreith and I were dating from 1998 t0 2000, and particularly during the second year of our courtship, I’d hop in my white Honda Civic and drive out the Mass Turnpike to Easthampton, where she and Aidan were living at the time.
We used to joke that you’d blink once at be at Worcester, and blink again and be at Springfield.
I’m thinking of that comment as we approach Worcester.
While blink may more popularly be known as the subject of Malcolm Gladwell’s second book, I am feeling a deeper resonance with the instantaneous closure of an eye and large chunks of distance and time passing.
Somehow, during the past three days in Western Massachusetts, I felt more acutely aware of being, like Dante in the beginning of the Inferno, midway through my life’s journey.
Part of it came from the physical growth and increased emotional maturity of Aidan and his six cousins. The younger generation’s pushing up on us reminds me of our place in the generations having shifted-a transition that is reinforced by its being Aidan’s last December break while still in high school. As the oldest cousin, he’ll be the first to head off to college and continue to move toward adulthood.
Another part of it is from my father-in-law Marty’s absence for the first time at a family Christmas gathering. I of course do not celebrate Christmas, and I do remember when he broke from his customary reserve about singing and offered an impressive bass rendition of Silent Night. I remember how much he relished sitting at the head of the table, looking out at his family and shared the meal Helen, his wife and companion of more than half a century, prepared for him.
Part of it is reflecting on how our parents have passed or started to falter this year more than in the past. Dunreith and I make daily calls to those parents who are left, trying to care remotely for them and in person for Aidan, who is more and more independent.
At the same time that time almost seems to evaporate, I am also aware of the value and gift inherent in each moment. The losses, decline and growth of the past year all reinforce how time’s inexorable and irretrievably forward march. Now, more than before, I understand that nothing is inevitable in life but our deaths, and thus each experience and source of joy is to be savored.
Now, even more than before, I feel myself pushed both to live with purpose and focus and to be open to people, connection and shared experiences.
We are about to arrive, so I will sign off for now, in the front of the bus and in the middle of life, and grateful for both.