This prompt really got under my skin. I've been pondering it since early Saturday morning, considering what I would do if I could freeze time. After lots of thought, I simply have to admit that I wouldn't stop time, even if I could.
The opportunity to think this through comes after a week of no sleep, too much to do, and not enough time to do it. At some point while mentally bemoaning all I needed and wanted to do, it struck me how tremendously lucky I am to live such an interesting and varied life. In response to all that calls me, I bounce out of bed each morning, eager to take on the day's challenges and wrap myself in its comforts. I find myself wordlessly pleased by a soothing cup of tea mid-morning, charmed by life on the pond, and generally content despite the low-level chaos that surrounds me.
When I consider my relationship to time in contrast to many people—some of whom I know personally—for whom time hangs heavily each day, my main feeling is one of immense gratitude. The hours and days DO move too swiftly, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Although time doesn't stop, my personal hard drive holds hundreds of freeze frame memories that I take out and look at from time to time, like treasures from a box. Here are a couple of them.
• My son's appearance at Grand March before prom in his junior year of high school. Prom was on our birthday that year, and seeing him participate in such a normal rite of passge was one of the greatest gifts I ever received. From my seat in the bleachers, surrounded by parents for whom this was an important but not unexpected event, I watched The Boy escort his lovely date, Emily, to the flower covered arch in the center of the school gym. They paused for photos, then turned and walked away as all the other couples had done. But after all The Boy had been through, this was a most unexpected and treasured turn of events, and I sobbed silently as I tried not to miss a moment of his glory. I can still see the royal blue curtain fluttering softly behind the arch, the lights reflecting off the bald head and glasses of the teacher annoucing the couples, the red carpet leading to the white arch, the glint of sequins from Emily's fairy-tale gown, the dull glow from The Boy's perfectly polished shoes. Most of all, I see the light of pride in his eyes as he smiled for the cameras. That light never dims, never dies, and never will as long as I live to remember it.
• A lunch The Girl and I shared one spring day when she was 16 or so. We sat on the patio of a local eatery, soaking up the sun and warmth as sun-starved Minnesotans tend to do come spring. We were talking about the possibility of contacting her birth mother, who has always made it clear that she welcomes and hopes for such a thing. In response to my question, The Girl said, "Not yet. I don't think I'm ready yet, not mature enough yet. But someday I'll be ready and when I am, you'll help me."
When I think of this moment, I can call back the smell of hamburgers on the grill mixed with the fragrance of lilacs and car exhaust. I can feel the weak spring sunshine and the slight warmth provided by the navy-blue cotton napkin on my lap. I can see The Girl's blonde curls falling over her shoulders and the fuzzy green turtleneck she wore. I also see the maturity and wisdom and trust reflected in her green/gray eyes. I was so proud that my daughter knew herself well enough to say "Not yet," and knew me well enough to know I would do whatever was best for her, whenever she wanted.
• A night The Wasbund and I spent at a friend's cabin, many years ago. We gathered around a fire in the yard and a couple of the guys played guitars and sang. As we sat under the stars, listening to the soft lap of the lake on the shore 20 feet away, we were warmed by the fire and by the glow of true friendship and comraderie. The good fortune of being part of that charmed circle never ceases to amaze me, and I can still feel the dew gathering in the cool of the evening, can still hear the crackle of the fire, the distant whine of mosquitos and chirp of crickets. If I concentrate, I can still see friends' faces in the flickering light and hear their voices as they sang or hummed along. Magic.