An excerpt from a letter to my brother
There is a theory in theoretical physics that time does not exist. There is no yesterday, and there is no tomorrow — only this one precise moment frozen in a standstill. Memories are an illusion, and in most ways everything we perceive is an illusion as well. I’m not a physicist, but I imagine that this is a theory whose purpose is to stretch the limits of both imagination and mathematics, and isn’t a true belief of any scientist. However, I will play their game.
If I could choose one moment in which to live forever, it would be a hot summer evening. The sun is close to the horizon, it’s golden light dancing through the leaves of breezy trees. It’s the kind of light you can feel in your soul. It’s humid, but with the soft wind and the low angle of the sun, a relief seeps through the air. In this frozen moment I’m a child, and I’m in the backyard. Dinner is over. If Dad is there we’re probably playing baseball. Or freeze tag. Or red light green light. Or bocce. If it’s just you and me we’re having a backyard adventure — exploring the Amazon rain forest or pretending to be aliens from Pluto. I think it’s these perfect childhood memories that have left a strong association of peace with the light of a summer evening.
Throughout my teenage years I sought refuge in this evening light. I suffered from that teenage malady we call angst. My particular bout was as bad as most teens’ and worse than the rest. Most evenings I planned my walks with Cheyenne to coincide with sunset at Weed’s farm. No matter how anxious or depressed I had felt that day, my moments at the top of that hill, looking over the green field and rolling hills, melted it all away. I felt physically lighter. In a play on words, I like to think some sort of magic in the sun’s light seeped through my pores to make me lighter. In many ways, the magic and beauty of nature — particularly these golden summer evenings — were my main propellant and saving grace of teenager-hood.
It’s been a little over 10 years since I’ve experienced these feelings. At first I didn’t exactly notice they had disappeared. When I was directly and acutely grieving mom’s loss I blamed my profound depression. That first summer, and for a solid two years after, the only times I was happy I was pretending. But as time went on, and I regained my sanity, I found that I experienced these sunset and twilight moments quite differently. Rather than living in and appreciating the beauty in these moments, I found myself experiencing two disparate emotions. Yes, I still felt that same awe, but there was now something more: pain. At the same time I basked in the wonder of the world, I was prematurely grieving its demise. I could no longer truly enjoy sunset because in a few hours it would be night, and in a few months it would be November. My former refuge now taunted me with despair.
It took me several years to realize the parallels between mom’s death and the change in these summer sunsets, but the day I realized I could no longer relish these evenings because I had lost the person in the world most important to me — and she was never coming back — I cried long and hard. For better, but mostly for worse, the loss of mom taught me all good things must come to an end.