Our Momentby Brie Stimson February 26, 2018
Well it happened again. Another year has gone by and it’s time for my birthday. (“Yay!” she said unenthusiastically). It’s not that I don’t enjoy an excuse to blow out a burning dessert while I secretly wish to not get any older, but as each year goes by, I seem to become more reflective.
This morning I was at home thinking, where has the time gone? Suddenly I was transported back to my grandfather’s birthday when I was probably 12 or 13. I remember thinking at the time, “I want to hold on to this moment right now, because everything is perfect, and I know it’s going to change so quickly.” I’m surprised I thought about that at such a young age, but I’m glad I did. Because of that I have been able to vividly recall that birthday party at my grandparents’ house in the many years since. I wish I could remember all of the others in the same way, but to remember even one with perfect clarity is an unbelievable gift.
That’s the important thing about celebrations. Sure, they’re fun at the time, but I believe we really do them for the memories. Years later we can look back at photos of children’s birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, Passovers, vacations, weddings and anniversaries and remember those we love whether they’re still here or not. Sometimes we can even remember the dress she wore or the way he smiled or how much we laughed.
Somewhere in my parents’ house there is a treasure trove of VHS tapes with our family videos on them. Jerky camerawork and awkward conversations about whether or not it’s recording aside, they’re a window into a past that, as a kid, I never fathomed I’d miss. As a teen I thought it was my job to stealthily avoid the camera lest it capture me with messy hair or a new pimple, but inevitably my uncle or grandfather (who were most often the cameramen) would comically catch me trying to run away. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell that know-it-all teen to stop being too-cool-for-school and enjoy the moments more. Before I knew it my childhood had flown by, and I was an adult with a car payment, a rental agreement and acquaintances asking me, “how many children do you have?”
I know a few of my readers (who look at my photo and see that I’m not 70 years old) may roll their eyes at my concern about “getting older,” but it’s really not about that. It’s about looking back and realizing everything is different. Divorces, fizzled friendships, distance between relatives and loved ones and death have made their mark. Life is constantly changing – that is what makes life life – but sometimes for just a second I’d like to hold on to a perfect moment for just a little longer than I’m allowed.
Thinking about the past makes me think of the future – how someday I’ll probably be in my retirement home on the moon, sitting in my solar-powered rocking chair trying to remember my youth. My grandkids will ask me if I was really a reporter when President Trump was in office and when he was succeeded by Oprah (and eventually Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy), and I’ll try to remember what it was like to be alive in 2018, when I still had my whole life ahead of me.
I love reading about history, and I often think, everybody has their “moment.” We have one body, one heart, one life – and a limited amount of time. So go out and celebrate. Do your 50th birthday like it’s your 10th. Have a Seder that makes the neighbors call the cops (don’t really do that), take that trip to Europe that you’ve been putting off, because right now it’s our moment. Α