Family and friends assemble under the white canopy, murmuring greetings as they find seats. The sun peeks through bubbly clouds. Droplets left from an earlier cloudburst sparkle on the garden’s leaves and grass. The air smells of fresh rain and anticipation as my oldest nephew stands waiting for his bride. I feel the familiar cocktail of two parts joy, one part tender reminiscence, and a twist of surprise. Where did time go?
The tuxedoed gentleman at the alter was the first newborn I’d ever held. He was the first to call me Aunt. My mind recalls him riding bikes, climbing trees, and once chanting “Michael, Michael Motorcycle” through an entire family gathering. Now he and his bride step into their future. Their tomorrows. A new beginning and–in some ways–an ending, too. A new, green shoot branches the family tree.
The future seems so far away…until it is here.
Years back, my youngest coined a clever term. She’d wanted a play date with a new kindergarten friend and disliked my “not tomorrow” response. Her brows crinkled in thought as we pulled away from school. Then her bright blue eyes met mine in the rear view mirror, and she pointedly asked, “Well then, what about tomorrow’s tomorrow?”
Tomorrow’s tomorrow, indeed. Lately I’ve discovered it everywhere. Events far in the future have appeared before me like a magician’s sleight of hand.
Student names echo through the gymnasium speakers at my daughter’s eighth grade ceremony. I’m confident she is ready for high school, so I’m not teary-eyed. Yet afterward, another parent stops to say hello with her three-week old bundled in her arms. I stare at him sleeping, little puffy eyes tightly squeezed. One mottled pink arm escapes the blanket and hangs loosely. His tiny cotton hat sits askew. My heart suddenly pounds with memory. In a whoosh, tomorrow’s tomorrow appeared, right there, in a crowded gymnasium. Had I catapulted fourteen years?
It shocks me sometimes, this movement through life. Each new phase entered means someone fills the space I’ve left behind. My soul knows “passing the baton” is the natural order of things. My head, however, sometimes doesn’t recognize how—or when—the batons were passed.
In college, springtime epitomized joie de vivre. Campus exploded with carpe diem philosophy. As a freshman, I didn’t think beyond which test or paper was due next, readily skipping class to toss a Frisbee or sit in the warm grass savoring the spring sun. In the afternoons, my dorm mates hoisted giant black speakers into their 10th floor window wells, blasting the Talking Heads. We’d scream/chant along with David Byrne’s “Once in a Lifetime” until our throats hurt.
And you may ask yourself, “Hey! How did I get here?”
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones there is water underground
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
My friends and I danced and sang and partied when we wanted. In perfect irony, we never realized the anthem we belted was commentary on time’s continuous movement. And I couldn’t know I’d one day ask myself, “Hey! How did I get here?!”
Today I think I’d have to respond like David Byrne, by “Letting the day’s go by…Once in a lifetime…”
There’s no preparation for tomorrow’s tomorrow. Attempting to predict or plan only steals joy from this moment. This day. I’ve done this far too often. But I’m learning.
Don’t you agree today’s moments deserve full attention? After all, tomorrow’s tomorrow is already flowing our way.
Special thanks to Evelyn Nevala Raida for this post’s cover image. She photographed the raindrop at Silver Lake in beautiful Northern Minnesota and kindly granted permission for use of the image here. Thank you, Evelyn!
And for those of you needing an 80’s MTV-style fix, click Once in a Lifetime above for the youtube link. The video isn’t as good as I remembered, but the song, my connection to it, and its prophecy still stand in my humble opinion. Enjoy.