When June was born I remember thinking we would never make it to the six month mark, but then time sped up, went faster than those early days when we revolved around the minute, and here we are. Everything in our lives is different than it was before June. Our nights are different, our routines are different. Our house, once filled with calming grays, whites, and blues, is checkered now with the bright yellows and greens of the jungle gym and stuffed toys.
And every night, we put her to bed and somehow she wakes up bigger and more alert, funnier than she was the day before—so different, every morning, that I ask her where did you go in the night and what new place did you find in your mind that has shown you to be this much bigger on the outside? Where did you travel and what did you dream that it has changed who you are overnight?
She can grow an inch in a night, our pediatrician told us and I asked you, is there anything more mysterious than this? What happens on her insides that she grows so visibly in the space between time where we are lost in our dreams? But you have told me and you are right—she herself is a mystery that is forever unfolding.
She lives in time, really sinks down into it, and whatever moment she’s in, second, minute, hour, she is in it, not thinking about where she will be or what she just did. She doesn’t float along on the top of time, skimming the surface and dipping in whenever something looks interesting. She is swallowed by it, swelling beneath it. Her entire being must succumb to it; she is perpetually present.
Six months, such a small time, even in our marriage but it is her whole life, all she’s ever known, so six months which is so small and so fast to us, is to her eternity. All her life, we’ll hold in our hands because we have been here for it, because we know so much more from before her time, because we hold on to pieces and events from long before June. June will never walk the sidewalks of our campus in the bitter cold of January. She will never be there on the beach with our college friends that summer and watch the thunderclouds roll in. She will never stand and sing And Can It Be with us on our wedding day, she will never be in the elevator three years into our marriage when I was desperate for a bathroom and you kept making me laugh. There is so much—a decade, almost, of the You and Me before June that she will hear about and come to love but will never know herself.
It is the perpetual presence, now that she is in time with us, that has swallowed us up as well. Those early days found us sucked into her orbit of three hour cycles, threatening to strip away everything that was Rachael and Andrew before June, until our only identity was Parent. In some ways that is appropriate, because this tiny little creature was confused and helpless, entirely dependent on us. But in other ways it was devastating because I could remember who we were before we were only burpers, nursers, comforters and I wanted it back—the all of you and the all of me that lived in time but were not slaves to it.
What did I say at the beginning of all of this? That I didn’t want to get to the end and not know you anymore, that I didn’t want another person make us forget each other? You said, not possible, but we both know that it could be possible, that is only too easy, when you are sleep deprived and when all your time belongs to another, to put away everything you were high up on a shelf where it will grow stagnant and collect dust, so that when you revisit in years down the road, it hasn’t gone anywhere, or changed, and you hardly recognize the person you were before all of this happened.
Andrew, what is all this time going to do to us?
So you said, we’ll find time, and between June’s pocket’s of eating and sleeping, we found little glimmers. We went on walks together and you made breakfast in the morning so we could sit and have a meal together. We pieced together enough pockets of time for two vacations, and last night, we put her to bed with plenty of daylight left and we sat in the front of our little brick house while you smoked your pipe and I read my book, and it was all the bliss of what used to be, but more so, because that once tiny creature is turning into the funniest, chubbiest baby and the time she’s been with us sticks to us like a layer of joy. So it is possible, I said last night, to live in time with each other and also with a baby.
It is vital, you told me. All this time is happening to us both and we must hold on to each other so that neither one of us get lost in it. I must hold on to your favorite songs and your sense of humor and you must hold on to the excerpts I read you from my writing and the movies that make me cry so that we make sure we will not lose each other beneath all this time. It will make our hair gray and our joints stiff but if we don’t let each other go, it will also make gardens of our souls and that is one of the best gifts we can give our daughter-to not have succumbed to the whirlwind of busy but to be water, light, and beauty to each other all this time.