Since my mother’s sister died in January, my cousins have been dealing with the exhausting task of going through their mother’s belongings. There is a lot of agonizing and sorting and deciding that must be done when trying to dismantle the accumulation of a lifetime.
In a package of things they returned to my mother, there was a picture of me when I was about the same age that Sean is now. When my mother came out to visit recently, she gave the picture to me. I hadn’t seen the picture before and when she handed it to me I was struck by how much of Sean I saw in my own face. Not so much in features, although there is certainly some of that, but something beyond that. Something that can’t be described in words or explained by genetics. Something impish behind the eyes, an almost imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow — something so intimate that it can only be discerned from having looked into a mirror for 47 years.
As I held the picture in my hand, peering 44 years back into time, it made my knees weak to see the likeness of my son in my own three-year-old face. I could only think about how in the weaving of the great tapestry of life, God himself picks and chooses tiny filament threads to carry over from parent to child, from one generation to the next, binding us all together through the ages with the double helix of DNA or some other invisible something that is not yet known to man.
I thought about how it is through Sean and the miracle that is his life that I might possibly live beyond my own allotted days on this earth and into a future I will not know and can’t anticipate or comprehend, a time that will be attended to by faces that I will never see, whose names I will never know. I will return to the dust from whence I came. No matter how remarkably I live out my life, sooner rather than later, time will erase every trace and memory that I was here….
Except maybe… at some appointed time in a distant future, God will craft another funny face with something impish behind the eyes and an imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow. And then, even though I might have been forgotten, I will not be gone.