At the weekend, my husband gave me three USB sticks which he had discovered in a desk drawer. I'm not sure what he was looking for on these. It might have just been curiosity as to what they held rather than a particular search. Either way, he announced that I may want to look at them.
What treasure. Only this week, my youngest had turned thirteen. A rite of passage in the same way as reaching double digits: he's growing up. I love the young person that he is - funny, loving, stubborn, chatty, infuriating at times but my boy all the same. Or my teen.
It's bitter sweet, this growing-up lark. I love the engagement that I have with my boys now. They never fail to make me laugh with their antics and the things that they come out with. My youngest is always humming or beatboxing, making music from the beat of the wipers on a rainy day and the indicator in the car as I turn into a junction. My eldest has a very dry British wit which grabs me at times and shakes me with mirth at its unexpectedness and speed of delivery. They are both extremely affectionate and I love them very much, even when they are maddening.
They are becoming young men before my very eyes. Taller than me, deeper of voice, hairier, asking about razors and body wash, and eating all of the contents of the cupboard and the fridge.
The memories of them as little beings is still present but the edges are getting fuzzy. Facebook helps with memories of things that they have said or uploaded photos from a family trip or a memorable occasion. I also had the presence of mind to make scrapbooks through the years of our adventures and I regularly indulge in reminiscing.
However, the static nature of these things means that you don't get an idea of their character as much as you might from video. And that's what was on the memory sticks: memories, none of them made with sticks.
I didn't take a lot of videos. I'm not sure why. Photos, yes. Videos, no. It might have been a storage issue and the anticipation of gadgets slowing down as a result of cloggage, and the obvious frustrations these would present. I don't know and I can't remember but this makes whatever footage I have all the more precious.
I repeat: what treasure these captured moments are. The joy that I felt at seeing these again was so potent that it is difficult to describe. On the screen in front of me is my past life. Two little boys dressed in summer t-shirts and shorts running in a park near Sydney, Australia. Their clothes are colourful and captioned, one with trucks and one with some clichéd phrase about liking spiders. I am holding the camera and am standing in the shade of a tree. My eldest is closer to me, balancing on tree roots and singing to himself, in his own little world, cap sitting on his head on the skew. The sight of him makes my heart leap. He is five.
In the distance is my other son, running off towards where some gulls have landed on the grass. He is chasing them and they are flying off but this does not deter him and he runs in short bursts of energy towards them, looking for new gulls to chase. He is two.
There is something beguiling and captivating about seeing them like this that means that I watch the film over and over again. It makes me cry. I am not sad but there is a longing there in my chest that wants to reach back across the years and lift up these little people onto my lap and read them a story or smell their hair while they snuggle into me. I want to feel that pudgy little hand and hear their giggles on the trampoline and build sandcastles for them to destroy. I want to be there again, just for a little while, to experience it again.
This is as close as I am going to get, I know that. They can never be reexperienced, those moments but they can be revisited, courtesy of these films. They are mere seconds long but evoke a whole thread of feeling, tugging and unravelling emotion until it feels like you are almost on the verge of being undone at the intensity of it.
This morning, I went into my boys while they were still asleep, which in itself is not unusual as I usually wake them up. A glimpse of them when they are sleeping just before I wake them up to start their day is when they most resemble their younger selves, their faces still and untroubled. The feelings that I had this morning were intensified as I remembered the images that I had viewed the day before. These were the same boys but we were worlds away from walking on tree roots and chasing gulls.
I took time to curl up next to them this morning, placing my arms around them and telling them that I loved them and savouring the moment of just being with them at this stage of their lives, on this morning, at this time.
Because, just like that, time swoops in and pushes you all forward into change, and you barely recognise yourself now and what was.
About the Creator
Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.
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