If there's ever been a more overused, under appreciated statement, I don't know what it is. Sometimes I think that the swift passage of time is just a wish granted. Only, it seems that once the clock winder grants that wish and speeds time up, he can no more slow it down again than reverse it. Perhaps we should be more careful what we wish for--yet another oft turned, oft under valued phrase.
I traveled to the ends of the earth this past Saturday (well, La Marque, Texas to be exact) to see my sister be married. (It seems so unfathomable that my little sister could be getting married!) And on the way to witness that blissful occasion I had the opportunity to stop in the town of my birth for a few moments. I was there to pick up my cousin who still lives there, and while I waited for him to get ready, I decided to take a quick pass through the old neighborhood and show my son where I grew up.
We had just passed my old house and were making the turn at the end of the block, when a bit of nostalgia struck me. I was thinking and telling about a crude iron bridge that my cousin and I had constructed as kids to ford a small creek in the woods at the end of my block. And as we passed near the place where it stood so long ago the idea suddenly occurred to me to stop and see the old creek again. It was as much to show to my son as it was for me to see it again, but I hadn't even considered whether or not the bridge could actually still be standing.
But as we stepped off the road and into the wood, there it was, as clear in the path of my sight as it had been for so many years in only memory. I was really quite astonished as my son quickly navigated the wooded trail down to the old ramshackle, red iron bridge. And as I looked on, he took a tentative step out onto the iron, then another, and easily crossed the rest of the way to the far bank. I can't even remember telling him to be careful. Though I clearly saw my son before me on the bridge, I could just as easily see myself there, as a small boy, whimsical, without worry, and untouched by the rigor and stresses of adult life. A mop of brown hair stood stark against the shimmer of my youthful blue eyes, and an easy smile lay spread across my face like a ray of summer sunshine breaking the cruelness of a stormy sky. And as I looked on, realized that we were in a hurry, and that time yet again was against us, I saw that little boy disappear. Only my boy remained there on the other side of the bridge.
There are many bridges that we cross in this life, metaphorically speaking. From childhood to adolescence to adulthood we travel ever on, persistent upon the path of life, harried every step of the way by time. I never attempted to cross that bridge and join my son on the other bank that day. Somehow, in many ways, that bridge, that far bank, represent a childhood long gone. I had crossed, it seemed, for the last time. I've often thought, since that day, that I wish I could make my kiddo understand just how precious that side of the bridge is. But what's new? Kids are always looking ahead, while the adults are ever looking back.
I guess it was foreshadowing for the day--the day that I would see my sister wed. I suppose she's marrying at a completely reasonable time in her life, but that didn't stop the scene of her standing at the altar from being completely surreal to me. She was the picture of beauty, strength, and calm. And in a few days she will cross another bridge into motherhood, and it will be her turn to nurture a daughter that will grow, play, and begin to cross bridges of her own.
I am, and have always been proud to be her brother. And I wish her all of the love and happiness that she deserves in this life.
As far as the bridge goes, there is a little bit of glee that erupts in my soul just thinking that it has carried other kids safely across the creek and into the woods to create their own childhood memories. And I hope that it continues to do so.