Permission to disappear

Was that the last time?

I find myself dwelling on this thought more often day by day. Not only because I turned 48 at the start of June, or that two thirds of my kids are adults, or that I — like so many other of millions — am purposely isolating amidst a global pandemic. But because I realize that so many moments are disappearing with my permission.

There is always a last time; a last hug, a last word, a last look, and I will fail to see it because I am not here.

Over time so many of us prioritized careers and tasks and busyness and distractions over relationships. And there is no right or wrong in that. They are just choices that have to be made. Things that need to be done, responsibilities that must be assumed, and food and clothes and shelter and security to provide.

But maybe somewhere, not to very far in the future, we will be without our kids, without our jobs, without our abilities and facilities to do what we once did, and we’ll reach out for a connection that has slowly withered to a faint memory.

Perhaps we will look back in regret that we chose an hour in front of a machine, in a car driving in circles, in making efforts to chase something imagined or maybe flee a ghostly fear of our failures. Will we wish that we found an hour to be in front of a friend, to find value in the being present, and delay the pressures of being reduced to lists and tallies and records of activity.

I am guilty, and I don’t want to be the last to realize there is no time remaining to grasp the moment.