It all began last Saturday when hubs decided to hook up all the godforsaken wires, allowing us to finally view the compilation of family video-clips on the big-screen TV. Over the years, many have disappeared either due to weather-related damage, neglect or as the result of a home invasion back in 2008. But, of the ones still left, it was enough to rekindle old, repressed emotions about a period of life that no longer exists. Not necessarily a better one, but rather one that had been buried in a capsule of time and space and rarely brought out to explore.
The kids always ask me about their lives in Panama, in Costa Rica, and why they don’t remember much. They become increasingly curious as time marches on, as it slowly fades into a distant, hazy dream. It pains me.
Nonetheless, the kids were engrossed in the footage, fascinated by their wagging tongues, spewing out mostly Spanish punctuated by thick-accented, broken English. Their friends, their old toys, old bedrooms and favorite places brought flooding memories to the fore and were almost too much bear.
I was bawling, not out of sadness for this past life, or regret of things gone wrong or a lack of contentment with the present, but out of the irrefutable confirmation of the movement of time. And the marks time’s passage has left on all of us.
The kids have grown. The parents (us) have aged, and that wide-eyed, innocent look in our eyes has long vanished. We’ve been through a lot of hardship and it’s taken its toll. (And, the constant “Mommy, you look like a teenager” didn’t help much to bolster my self-esteem either.)
Yet one thing I realized is that life keeps moving, and sometimes we don’t keep up. When did my eldest become ten, my baby stop being a baby, and when did I turn so gray?
After an eight-hour emotional rollercoaster of family together-ness, reviewing the last decade of our lives, we opted to head toward the beach to enjoy a breezy evening stroll along the Hollywood Broadwalk. We grabbed a pizza. That evening proved reinvigorating and was something we all needed to thrust us back into the present.
The next day at the Miami Book Fair, my husband and I were decidedly on a mission to document our time together as a family. After a lovely day of culture, we arrived home fulfilled and content. The kids went to bed and we found ourselves immersed in a foreign flick, one depicting a Finnish family during World War II that had sent their child to Sweden, to be raised indefinitely by a willing yet abrasive family.
And there I was, wailing again, identifying for some unknown reason with the host-mother’s conflicting emotions, struggling to reconcile the guarded love she felt for her “rented child” with her own biological child’s accidental death two years earlier.
That night years of pent-up emotions poured out of me and I fell asleep exhausted.
Equipped with new insight provided from witnessing the recordings of life’s last fleeting decade and those gained through watching the foreign film, I awoke the following morning full of determination and resolved to begin anew this Thanksgiving.
I was equally bent on re-capturing the youthful gleam in my eye that had somehow disappeared over the years. And, albeit via a little under-eye concealer, erase some of the tracks five years of hardship had left on my face.
So I marched straight into CVS and after an hour of concentrated study, surveying the overwhelming options, made some purchases.
So far, so good. I’m on my way and ready to embrace this next decade with my concealer-laden eyes wide open.