Have you ever looked at your child and seen your own face? And maybe your child doesn’t look so much like you, but there is something that he does, some little expression that he makes that is unmistakably yours. And just for a split second, the thread that has stitched all of humanity and history together is brilliant and visible and eternity suddenly makes sense.
Last year, when I was in Illinois visiting my parents, a neighbor brought over some old Super 8 movie footage that had been hiding in a closet for 40 or more years. On it were scenes from a birthday party from when her girls and I were little, maybe four or five years old.
There wasn’t but a few seconds of me on the video, but seeing myself at that age, especially now that Sean is that same age, was something beyond eerie. It was like watching liquid time being poured out into my cupped hands, spilling over the sides and slipping through my fingers.
In watching myself as a 4-year-old, I realized that like me, Sean wears every emotion on his face — twitches, twists and puckers that telegraph every thought and feeling.
And so I asked God, why did you make him so much like me, unable to hold his cards to his chest? He will never be able to negotiate a car deal or even a nickel off on a garage sale item.
I thought of that old Super 8 film yesterday as I sat on a park bench, watching Sean as he came barreling down a slide. The wind blew the hair from his face in just the right way and he wore a familiar expression of unfiltered exhilaration. But instead of a boy on a slide, this is what I saw:
A whole lot of time has been poured out since I sat on the hood of the family car with my brother on a windy day in the early 60s and I haven’t been able to hold on to a single drop.
And I haven’t even wanted to. Until now.
Now, as I sit on a park bench watching a little boy who looks something like me zip down the slide with the wind in his face, I want to catch every drop and drink it up.