Sunday, October 03, 2010

Time Doesn't Stop...But It Sometimes Stands Still

photo courtesy of Matt Conroy - 26 Things
21 years ago today, my adorable niece, Coco Pants, was born.

On that day, I was 17 years old - wretched in the last hormonal throes of teenagery - and still under the delusion that time creeps as slowly at 40 as it does at 10.

Do you remember 10? Do you remember when life was stretched further than the eye could see? When 12 weeks in the summer felt like a never-ending story of sunshine and ice cream delights? When the days to the next Christmas or birthday seemed an eternity?

I woke up this morning, listening to my almost-40 body complain about the abuse it's sustained. In my head, I'm screaming, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about." All the while, I'm making my list of everything I must get done on this last day of the weekend before the whirlwind week ahead begins in earnest and I'm lost in a rush as the days fly past faster and faster - a blur of places to go, people to see, tasks to accomplish.

I barely remember last week.

But I remember 17 as though it were just yesterday.

Tuesday, I met an old...I don't even know what to call him...friend? flame? door left open?...for drinks. We squeezed each other in between our respective work and social schedules and talked, in part, about how busy we both were. Two hours felt like 20 minutes and there was so much that still felt undone as we said our goodbyes in the parking lot, both feeling like there was plenty of time to take things slow, draw them out, make them last - there are, after all, more urgent matters at hand demanding our attention and our time. Although, perhaps we'd still be there in that parking lot if it hadn't been for our audience of one perched on the trunk of her (I presume) car, smoking a cigarette and watching with amusement. Bitch.

And then it happened.

One of his two best friends was killed while riding his motorcycle Thursday night, the victim of a head on collision with an allegedly stoned SUV 18-year-old whose life is still stretched further than the eye can see. While John, whose 33-year-old life was just beginning to take on that blur of age and wisdom, was cut short in one tragic instant.

And the clock stands still.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
                                           -W.H. Auden

Family and friends come together, suspended in this moment of immense grief, to cry, to laugh, to toast, to love him...and each other. In this moment, time stands still for them as clarity strikes, resonating through their hearts, as guilt for the lost opportunities to appreciate, to savor each other and the time they shared is recognized. They do it now, openly appreciating and loving one another, attempting to make up for lost time, before time resumes and they join the rest of us as we continue to rush rush rush through the trivialities of our lives.

Tick tick tock
Says the clock
Seize the day.

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