Tonight I would like to express my displeasure with time. It’s shifty and stubborn. Sometimes there’s too much of it. Sometimes there’s not enough. No, not sometimes. Always there’s too much of it. Always there’s not enough. Time is fulsome in its brevity, always present, never passing too quickly to suit us, and when it does pass, the absence of whatever was here before seems outrageous. It’s madness. An affront to our sense of self and our urge to control things. We don’t want time to go anywhere, and then we do want it go — quickly, tout suite, right now, boss-man — but when, after all of that lazing around, it finally gets off its big blobby tuckus and itches to move on, we bitch and moan in protest. Time! What the hell, dude! Stick around! But there it goes.
Chris’ time here came and went. Now I’ve had more than two years without him. They passed. Without him. Life accumulated. Without him. And when I make the mistake of looking too far ahead, I see a gelatinous, shuddering ass-mass of time — 20 years? 30 years? 40? — and I begin to panic. It’s too much, so I look back; and then, for a time, I stay there. Until that becomes too much, too.
If only we could freeze and un-freeze memories, fast forward and rewind scenes — like Adam Sandler in that peculiar tragedy of contemporary disquietude, “Click.” That was an odd movie. But I felt it. I understood it. Time flies not when you’re having fun but when you’re distracted and ungrateful, when you’re not paying hard enough attention to all the many graces before you.
They were before me when Chris was alive. Did I pay attention then? I hope to God I did. They’re before me still. Do I pay attention now? I hope to God I do. My oldest daughter, Madeleine, came home today for Thanksgiving, and the noisy joy of eating take-out with my three children in the kitchen gave me a moment out of time to notice — and to treasure.