Jacob looks at Mae. “She looks older,” he says. She lies on her back, legs bouncing unintentionally toward the ceiling. Sharp, happy little coos. Soft, baby breaths.
A few days ago Jacob and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. He made pink pancakes shaped like hearts. He was sleepwalking and smelly, his hair in two large, unkempt, Wolverine-like waves. After pancakes we watched our wedding video. I saw my 22 year old self– all giggles, bouncing-shoulders, and smiles. My posture was better then, and so was my tan. Jacob’s tuxedo jacket hung over him like a blanket. When Ellie noticed how he had ditched it later on at the reception she asked him, “Where’s your cape?” Everyone was sweating in that chapel. Everyone.
We did a lot of: “Wow! Cousin _______ was only 5 then! That’s younger than Sophie is now!” And “In another 10 years, Cohen will be 17!” We watched as Grandpa Bud and Grandpa Joe and Katie took their turns walking down the aisle. And we missed them. Once again we marveled at the passing of time. How a decade can pass by in the time it takes to open and close our eyes.
The day after our anniversary– yesterday– we went to the 100th birthday party for my aunt’s father. I watched from afar (feeding babies again) as people formed a semi-circle around Mr. Anderson to sing him Happy Birthday. Their voices were gentle in the large backyard, eventually soft as they found my ears. They celebrated his life, and he looked at them and he cried. And I am not sure, but he might have been thinking, “I blinked. I blinked and here I am.” And there he was, fully alive in his tears, fully grown into the beauty that is the world.
Today Jacob got a chance to talk with his own grandparents. He dropped them off at their house and they talked about Katie, about what life was like before and what it’s like now. Grandpa Jake took his cane, pointed it fiercely at his granddaughter’s picture, and said in a voice both wavering and strong, “I look at that every day,” and with a pause, “And I talk to her.” Then he shuffled into the next room.
Everyone concludes it all goes by in a blink. And the especially wise don’t even say this anymore, perhaps worried that the cliche will steal the sacredness from truth. I trust this when I hear it. So I’ve tried something recently. I take a look at what is around me– Jacob’s back as he lies in bed, Sophie squinting in her smudged glasses, Ellie methodically chewing a grape. I close my eyes. I open them. Slowly- like how an artful cinematographer films someone who is regaining consciousness. I open them and close them, and they are still here. The people I love. I blink and something that can only be grace lets me see them even after I re-open my eyes.
Tomorrow morning we will probably look in the mirror. Or at the sky. Or in the eyes of a stranger. Things that were once only coming will now finally be and will one day be no more. May we see these things.