October 27th, 2012 – July 27th 2014: Beginning of the 22nd month.
December 19th, 2010 – October 27th, 2012: 22 months old.
The length of time Rees was in our lives is now the length of time he was
removed ripped from it. I never really realized just how short a span of time 22 months was until I lived it in the wake of his loss. 22 months since I last heard his laugh. 22 months since he woke we up with his smile. 22 months since he last grabbed my hand. 22 months since I last heard him speak. 22 months since he was last in my physical world. 22 months since I was whole…
22 months represents his entire life. Beginning to end. Everything he was, everything I know about him – I feel about him, is derived from a lifetime that spanned 2 months shy of 2 years. Most of the things I own, I have owned for much longer than 22 months… and there is not one of those things, including my own life, that I would not trade to have him here today. I’ve written before about how time is such a cruel mistress. The longer I live, the more time seems to take from me. I guess this is the part of growing older that I never contemplated when was I younger. Time is a huntress that starts tracking you and everything you love, from birth. From the moment you enter world a new huntress is born that begins its mission to erase everything you are, and everything you will be. As we age the huntress hones her skill until she is finally ready to make the final strike. Sure, some of us are able to dodge the huntress at length, but no matter how wily we are, time will always strike true.
Time does this for everyone, and everything that has ever, or will ever, exist. The paradox of human life is the fact that we are completely aware of time stalking us, yet we are totally powerless to stop it. No other creature on this planet understands its own futility against time more than we do. The cruelty of time is the fact that in our youth we feel we have so much of it, we don’t consider the future – while in our twilight we see the long road behind us with the inevitable terminus ahead but spend too much of what remains lamenting the detours we took when there was more road ahead. We spend so much time worrying about time, that we forget that there is one place in which time has no meaning: the present.
“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
― Alice Morse Earle
In those 22 months of Rees’ life I am not sure if there many times that I stopped to think, in the present, of just how lucky I was. I know there were times – there had to be, but I don’t recall anything in particular. I took so much for granted in those 22 months because, in my mind, there was so much more time to be had with Rees. I had everything planned out. We would play with transformers together. Pretend to be superheroes together. Dig a ditch together. Make fire. Look up at the stars. Talk about girls. Play videogames. Watch the Mets disappoint us on a yearly basis…etc. I had his future all planned out. It was going to be amazing. It was going to be fun. It was going to be the best. It was never going to be.
I did not know on October 26th, 2012 that would be my last time saying “goodnight, little man”. I didn’t think time was going to track my little boy down. At 22 months time doesn’t have any teeth – it shouldn’t be able to do what it did. The future I thought I had on the 26th was destroyed the very next day. From the moment of his death, until the moment of mine, time will now do nothing but remind me of what I had. It is almost as if time now taunts me as she moves closer to taking her final lunge…
Now I realize that the analogy I just wrote is incredibly depressing. It really sounds hopeless (especially when I read it back to myself – man, that is a real downer!) … but there is something that I need to point out: The present. 22 months and 1 day ago Rees was in my life… but that is the past. Heck, 2 minutes ago is the past. There is nothing I can do about the past. The road behind me is something I can’t change. No matter how much I wish I could build a time machine (preferably out of a Delorean) – I know I never did/do. If I did, I would have stopped what happened to Rees from happening and then the events that would have lead me to creating the time machine in the first place would never have come to pass and I wouldn’t have built the time machine in the first place which in turn means that what happened would have happened anyhow… And as confusing as all that was, the truth is there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do about the past.
It is equally futile to think about the future. I am not there yet. Of course I am now (at least from the perspective of where I was when I wrote the last sentence) – but the fact is we never exist in the future either. If we did, I could have predicted what would have happened and it wouldn’t have happened (and no, I am not going to go off on some crazy time paradox thing again, my brain is still hurting from the one in the last paragraph). The fact of the matter is that we exist in the present. Always. Forever.
In a way, we are really stuck in place, like a person walking on a treadmill, with time moving around us while we keep pace. All we have is the present. Yes, Rees died 22 months ago. 22 months, 2 months, 1 hour, 10 years… it doesn’t matter. He is no longer here with me. There is nothing I can do to change that. If I keep worrying about time, I just give the huntress more to grind her teeth on. There is a gift that Rees gave me in his passing: the gift of perspective. The appreciation of the present. Instead of lamenting his loss in the past and feeling sad about what could have been in the future, I now find myself enjoying what I do have right now. I am thankful for the 22 months I had with my little boy. He changed me, profoundly.
I don’t fear the huntress anymore – in fact I don’t see her that way at all really. I’d rather think of time as my co-pilot in the journey of life to destinations unknown. When I am through in this life, she will guide me to the next – the unwavering companion and navigator. In losing my little man, I gained respect for the gift that is the present. Now, more than ever, I realize that the gift he gave me was a literal respect for life. Thank you, Richie for those 22 months… both of them. My course is laid in, and I am ready for the jump to lightspeed – and I am happy to have that companion with me for the ride…