The Long Days and Short Years
On beginnings, endings, milestones, and everything in-between
There is a version of last Monday I could post on Instagram. I have the photos and video footage to prove it was a happy day, a day worth commemorating, a day that deserves to be enshrined in emojis and exclamation marks.
Monday morning was warm and bright, the kind of morning that makes it not that hard to get out of bed. As I set out on my daily run, I glimpsed Mt. Hood perched at the edge of the city. It is always there but so rarely visible, either obscured by clouds or blurred by summer heat. Last Monday, its outlines were crisp, its snow glistening, its jagged peak cutting into the sky.
I spent the rest of the morning in an auditorium warm with the restless exhales of 200 squirming children. I was there to see my son and his friends dance at the school talent show. He was 20 acts in, and I had to call in late to my Monday staff meeting. But when my son craned his neck around and saw me in the audience, his eyes lit up and he said, “Mom! You came!”
He and his three friends had no rehearsed routine; they simply got up on stage and busted out their best moves. My son had gotten his nails painted gold the day before and wore mismatched socks, one hitched up to his knee and one that bunched around his ankle. I got it all on video so that one day, I could look back and remember this unencumbered age. Surely I would shed a tear or two.
I was back in the same auditorium eight hours later for my daughter’s fifth-grade graduation ceremony. She won the “Most Likely to Lead a Protest” award, and I could not think of anything more fitting. She’s had 11 years of practice leading protests against me, after all. Despite her eye rolls, I managed to snatch a photo of her with two of her oldest friends, all of whom, by pure coincidence, have names that start with Z.
One of the other mothers found an older photo of the “Three Zs” in the same hallway, five years prior, and we looked at both photos side by side, shaking our heads. In the first one, my daughter’s eyes are bright and her pigtails pulled tight against her head. I spent years dreaming about a day when she would be able to comb and style her own hair. That day arrived, but with it came the storm…