For the past 10 days, the prodigal son my baby brother has been in town. He hasn’t been home in over 2 years, and the last time I saw him, he had a cast covering his entire right leg (courtesy of a roadside bomb in Iraq) and I couldn’t stop petting him out of gratitude that he was still alive. So it was EXCELLENT to get to see him this year whole and walking without assistance. Additionally, my super awesome cityslicker baby sister has been home from college since my birthday.
As my siblings and I are unnaturally close, I’ve been spending a LOT of time at my mother’s house since their arrival. Beating each other up, fighting over the remote, laughing at mom (and each other), burping in each other’s faces and blaming each other for eating the last of the banana pudding (I promise it wasn’t me). It was amazingly fun and I’m so glad I was able to play with them.
I couldn’t help but notice, however, that I’m not 14. My sister isn’t a precocious 5 years old and my brother isn’t a shy preteen. We are all adults. (That’s a f*cking scary thought).
In addition to our extremely juvenile antics, we also had some real conversations about life, love, depression and death. (Funny how those four go together). At any rate, my babies are grown. They have opinions and ideas. Nevermind that our conversations, even on those heavy subjects, still result in oodles of raucous laughter.
The lives of my siblings do not revolve around our neat little nuclear family unit any more. I think my mother did a fantastic job of raising fully formed humans, even though, she sometimes (and I when it comes to my siblings) have a hard time adjusting to the way our family roles have changed.
My brother, who, when we were growing up, would easily toss my sisters and I around like his own personal rag dolls, acknowledged yesterday while he was struggling to carry my sister up a flight of stairs, either she’s getting heavy or he’s getting old (both, of course, are true). But I couldn’t help remembering how easily he would have accomplished that same task a few years ago.
Over this holiday break, I have had a chance to hang out with some of my “big” cousins. I mean those cousins that were grown (and uber cool in my young eyes) when I was a teenager. Lil’ Moni used to sneak and listen to the “adult” conversations that would flow around them. They were usually about who’s having sex, is it any good, how often and with whom -apparently conversations that I was too young to hear then (and I didn’t understand them anyway), but now …. now is a different story. Now, not only is my participation requested in these conversations, it’s damn near mandatory. I can’t count the number of times this week that my family asked me about my “social life”. And the stories that they tell, wow. I could write a book.
And now my big cousins have kids of their own, kids whose ears are routinely covered or who are flat out told to go outside and play, but who I am sure are smart enough to figure it out what the hell is going on.
But I have a very important question. Where did all the time go?
I say all this to say that time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future. And there is NOTHING we can do about it.
As much as I’d like to keep my siblings young, carefree and innocent of the dirt, evil, and suffering in this world, I can’t. Life happens, man. As much as I will always remember my big cousins, some of whom are in their 40′s now, as young and bright and shiny twenty and thirtysomethings marching toward the prime of their lives, I must remind myself that I am now in that position. If my life is to move forward (and it must) then I have be aware that time stands still for no one.
We get two choices: move of our own volition or get run over. I’m not getting run over, but repeatedly this holiday season has reminded me,
Cherish this time. Soak it up. Remember this. You will never live this moment again.
And luckily, I listened.