How To Keep Them With You

We’re always losing our kids. In fact, we’re raising them to lose them–every minute, every interaction is building towards that moment when they will leave and live their own life. We’re raising them knowing that one day we will leave them for good too. Plus there is the fact that, as the Stoics says, we’re constantly changing, ceasing to become who we once were–and nowhere is this truer than with our children, who will never be 1 or 2 or 3 or 13 ever again.

So how do we keep them with us, without literally always trying to keep them with us? How do we deal with this constant, endless loss without losing it ourselves? Well, we have to grab ahold of what we can. A couple months ago we talked about a great line in a beautiful song by The National, about really being there when we’re somewhere, when we’re with someone…well they have a new song, New Order T-Shirt, that puts it even better.

I keep what I can of you

Split-second glimpses and snapshots and sounds

You in my New Order t-shirt

Holding a cat and a glass of beer

I flicker through

I carry them with me like drugs in a pocket

You in a Kentucky aquarium

Talking to a shark in a corner

The song is actually about his wife Carin Besser and not their daughter Isla, but it holds true. Most of us probably do recall our kids chatting it up at an aquarium and soon enough we’ll see them drinking at a bar or a BBQ. All this will exist to us only for a few fleeting seconds, not as some long film, but as a handful of shorts.

We’ll need to grab hold of what we can, freeze it in our minds, carry it with us always, running the clips again and again in our minds. It won’t always be the most special and poignant of moments, but it will be the little things. When the light caught them in the backyard, when you helped them back to their bedroom after getting sick, when you were stuck in traffic on the 405, when everyone was watching the NBA Finals on the couch.

Flicker through them. Keep them. It’s the only thing that lasts. Everything else is change and loss

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