Toddlers and Thoughts on Time

by | Nov 6, 2010 | 2 comments

Audrey’s in her crib and tonight I am just thoroughly exhausted.  It’s been a long week with both of us with colds and the rain for a couple of days which meant not getting out as much as I would’ve liked or accomplishing very much- though another widow tells me each meal and every outing alone is a triumph.  “Be kind to yourself. You are surviving, raising a daughter and recovering from a cruel loss. No one can really understand what you are going through. It is like a sudden amputation of part of you. You are doing just fine,” she tells me.

Audrey was also crankier than usual today which is probably a result of the cold and not sleeping well, but it’s so difficult to tell, because she’s also been talking about you so much the past couple of days.  She points to the map in our kitchen and says she wants to go visit you in Australia where you live.  When I tell her, “Audrey, Appa’s not in Australia right?”  She quickly says, “No.”  I showed her a little chart of faces the therapist gave me in order for her to try to point out and articulate her emotions.  Today she pointed to angry and sad.

Earlier this afternoon I caved and gave her an IKEA train set I had stashed away with a lot of the other toys she’s received since your death.  I was going to save it for Christmas, but it was just such a long morning and I needed a moment to myself.  It’s a simple wooden train track with a tunnel, but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to connect in such a way that it would all fit together- the pieces wouldn’t reach or would curve away from each other.  I knew I was doing something stupid and not using common sense and that if you were here, you would’ve easily corrected me and we would’ve laughed.

The train kept her busy, at least for 20 minutes, which was good because I felt like one of those people suffering from depression on that commercial for antidepressants- except I’m not depressed- but grieving and mourning.  Not sure if it’s still around since I haven’t had a TV in a couple of years, but that one where the dog looks sad because his owner is depressed and the kid looks sad because his mom or dad is depressed.  Then after they take the medication, everyone’s happy.  I felt like that today- before the medication.  Audrey was constantly asking me, “Mommy play with you!” but I really couldn’t work up the energy.  I could almost hear the sad piano music from that commercial playing in the background.

While there is no continuity from my previous life to this strange reality I’m in now- there is a startling continuity or timelessness really in our day to day life.  This is because there’s no expectation of you coming home- and in turn there’s not really any end to the day or end to the week or month.  Even when you were away, there was that expectation.  Every stay-at-home mom knows that they are just counting the hours and minutes by the afternoon until they are “relieved” or until the weekend comes and for just one day they can spend some down time, or clean, or meet a friend while dad takes the child or children for a walk or to the playground.  But for me now, this job, these days are endless.  The divider of time is just Audrey’s rapid development that takes her from a high chair to a booster seat and from one size shoe to the next so quickly.

So this got me ruminating about time a bit more while I was bathing Audrey tonight.  I was thinking about how at this point, I believe time is not a beautiful thing at all- it is, I think a result of the fall and somewhat of a prison.  I think this is why I always feel sad when I’m reading a long novel or watching a movie and I see all the years passing and characters changing.  It’s what makes the story, but there’s something that doesn’t sit quite right with me about it- the feeling of nostalgia itself is not really an altogether pleasant one.

Brooding over the past leads to depression- worrying about the future: anxiety.  On the other side, planting markers of gratitude over the past to see how far one has progressed can be a good thing, and the future- well, that gives us hope.  Still- these I think- gratitude and hope- are gifts and mercies given to us to bear a life seated in the framework of time.  Through the lens of time we can see decay as well as growth because we have amazing potential for both here.  But in eternity- we would be finished and whole and hope would not be gone, but fulfilled.

The only thing to do really, the wisest thing- is to live just in the present moment- only take enough manna for the day.  But this doesn’t seem to come naturally to us either.  We need to read self-help books about it and “try” to stay in the present.  Oh yeah, and grieving- that will help because the past is too painful and the future without him absolutely unthinkable.

And so, though I’ve always thought eternity too impossible to fathom and therefore, not really applicable to me, I now believe eternity was like a a huge mansion we were meant to live in, but we got stuck inside all of the rooms.

In the timelessness of grieving- I think we actually catch a glimpse of that timelessness- I think as wrong as it feels to those of us not used to timelessness- it’s actually a picture of what’s to come.  The order of time is beautiful- the sun rising and falling- the seasons and the spinning- but the passing of it away- the hour glass filling- is not.  It is drained and empty and final like death.  Eternity would not be about flipping that hour glass over again and starting from the beginning- but a never-ending source of sand or energy that has no running out.

Later this evening, after coffee at our friend’s apartment below us, we came back and once more I failed at hooking up those train tracks.  But then when I picked up the box to throw it out, I discovered why.  There was one more piece in the box that we forgot to take out.  My earlier attempts had been futile without it.  But with it, everything changed- everything connected…with ease.  The train track made a figure eight right through the tunnel, the symbol for infinity.


November 6, 2010


  1. Claire

    My four daughters decided when their Dad died that he was really in Puerto Rico and they are 27 to 40 yrs. old. I understood.

  2. Anne D

    The last paragraph is wonderful.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like…

List-making in a Dark Time

List-making in a Dark Time

For any other list-makers out there, I published this on HerStories yesterday.""In this time of quarantine, my lists are offering me space outside of the walls of my home, a way of making sense of chaos, a self-imposed structure on structure-less days, and even a way...

Simple Things

Simple Things

"In our deepest self we keep living with the illusion that we will always be the same." Henri Nowen "It's really very simple," my late spiritual director, Gladys, once said to me. She was talking about how she lived each day, waking up, having a written conversation...

Continuous Living

Continuous Living

"Anxiety turns us toward courage, because the other alternative is despair." Paul Tillich I've claimed "seasonal affective disorder" for years, and that may be so, but I'm starting to realize it's not only summer to fall that is hard for me. It's winter to spring, and...