I am trying to remember my daughter. At the age of five. Then eight. Ten. I cannot. Not fully. I have memories of events, trips, ways of being and things we did. I have memories of how I felt, diffuse and drawn. But to none of these are attached any visions. I remember taking pictures but not the pictures themselves save the presence of those on our walls.
I try to remember my son. Again, I recall pictures but none of these exist in my head, only in albums and frames. I know how I feel, how I felt, how we were. But our time together is a recording with audio only. It is not like an audio tape though, which, as it is, stand full and complete. It is a video-tape running blank and black and I listen, wondering where the picture has gone.
Should I feel badly? I don’t know, but I do – as though I have lost something precious. I don’t want them to know I can hear them through the ages but cannot tell anyone what they looked like in middle school, playing in the band, at aikido, twirling in a swing, watching the water drop from a height. And a sadness settles in on me of a distinct kind. It is a sadness of loss continuing.
It is a sadness that all I have is now. I have read this. I know this. I know all I have is the clarity of this very moment and then it is gone. Even a memory is experienced ‘now.’ My children at ten are gone. My daughter dancing is gone. My son lying on the grass is gone. All that is continuous is my perception of myself and the sadness. And, someday, I know, the sadness will be all that is left.
It is my lunchtime. I take a walk. Out behind the school and there is no break in the chain-link for me to get to the field. There is a track and I do not enter as the area is full of students. I do not wish to walk with them. I do not wish to walk with anyone but my children at ten, at twelve. But they are sixteen and twenty-one and that cannot be.
I walk further on and find an oak. If I were more use to experiencing now in clarity, perhaps this would not bother me so. I have not meditated in weeks. Life. Life. And what has it gotten me? This sadness born of realization. It is a realization brought on by meditation and only meditation will render it clear, transparent; ok. The only way out is in. I remove some dried grass and sit.
My eyes close for a moment and I hear voices – Mr. Tritt, Mr. Tritt. What are you doing? Are you meditating? Do you like sitting under trees? – It continues without cease. There are five students. Then ten. Others arrive I do not know and tell me they are annoying and will be annoying me next year. They will not be. I will not even remember them. Only how it felt.
They talk, ask questions, play at the fence as some leave and are replaced by others as they yell, “Look it’s Mr. Tritt.” Then they are called from the fence by the coach, the bells rings and again, all is quiet. I could have left when they had first discovered me. But why hurt feelings? I have but a few moments of solitude remaining as I sit and all becomes still.
Another bell rings, I rise, knowing at this point in my life I am ruled by bells. As I walk back to my class, I think of my wife. Can I remember her? Video with the picture gone. A TV with only sound. But her, I will be seeing tonight, part of my present, my now. And I should take more care with that. It is all I have.