The aching in my chest as I neared the field where my children once played was triggered by a severe bout of nostalgia. Esme, the fifteen month old that was with me today, ran down the slight hill into the arms of her babysitter (and my daughter), Chelsey. Time warp: I had been here before; done this before. How could time be so quickly speeding away when the memories are still so vivid? So vivid!
Chelsey, my daughter, will be 21 in two days. She was once fifteen months old running into my arms. I blinked. How can I just blink and my daughter turns from a toddler like Esme into this beautiful woman? Chelsey’s long, auburn hair glistens in the sunlight just like when she was a toddler. Her eyes are still as blue as the spring sky. Her legs, however, are long now; she is elegant. Chelsey kneels to be at eye level with Esme as Esme toddles toward her, and Chelsey’s smile is still as bright as sunshine.
Chelsey, Esme and I walked down the sidewalk, cracked and worn with life’s upheavals—this sidewalk once familiar, to a driveway that my children once ran up eagerly to meet friends. We stood in the driveway for a few moments while Esme toddled around our legs.
“I remember running up this driveway. I couldn’t wait to see Lauren,” Chelsey said.
“Yes,” I swallowed the lump.
Chelsey was watching Esme inspect outdoor life in March. I was watching movies in my mind.
I remember sidewalk chalk all over this driveway . . . I can still see the drawings.
And Chelsey’s doll’s head rolled down this driveway. That doll was as big as Esme is now. Chelsey was running down the driveway, and the head of that doll just fell off and rolled down the driveway to the street. It looked so real . . . like a real human head full of dark curls. My husband and I had laughed hysterically while Chelsey cried hysterically. So we duct taped the doll’s head back on, but it wouldn’t hold, so the doll’s head had frequent bouts of decapitation. Even today this memory makes me smile.
“That window,” Chelsey commented. “That window is where we would wave at people.”
I nodded, and remembered Barbies strewn all over the floor of the condo, dress up clothes in piles, and Terry and I having coffee at the table near the patio. That patio right there. The one right above us with someone else’s grill.
“So fun,” Chelsey sighed. I sighed, too. Esme sighed after us without knowing why.
My friend, Terry, and I figured out life together during those days. Our babies, Kayla and Taylor, are graduating together in two months . . . from high school! Impossible! Wasn’t it last month they were four years old in ballet class together? We blinked; they grew up. Last week they were in the Orcassis Dance program together at the high school. They are still friends, still dancing together. These frinedships are treasures!
Chelsey was off walking down the sidewalk with Esme. I was still standing in the time warp.
I caught up with them as we rounded the corner and walked away from the small condo that held so many memories. I watched Esme toddle down the walk while Chelsey followed. Now, instead of looking back, I looked forward. I could see the future . . . Chelsey as a mom . . . me as a grandma. Life has joys in every season. Every single season. This day, as I walk with my grown-up daughter, I will rejoice in today and praise the God of love, and friendship, and the giver of all good things in every season.