When I was fourteen, my sixteen year old brother drowned. Our church youth group had gone canoeing. My brother, two other friends, and I all got ahead of the adults and stopped to wait on them to catch up. While waiting we played in the water. It was deep and my brother got in trouble and was not able to swim to safety. Despite the best efforts of a passerby to save him, he died. He drowned right there in front of my very eyes. It all happened so quickly. It has been twenty-three years since that day and some parts of that day are so vivid in my mind that I feel like I could reach out and touch them. After the immediate panic of what was happening, I turned to grab a life jacket and throw it to him. I turned back just in time to see him slip under the water for the last time. I stood there in utter shock holding that stupid life jacket that I never got to throw. Why didn't I think to grab it earlier? That thought has haunted me for twenty-three years. It does not haunt me as bad today as it did then. That moment...that moment is as clear as if it just occurred. I remember so distinctly what happened when I got home and fell into my daddy's arms, apologizing profusely. My daddy got my attention and looked me in the eye. He told me to stop right then and not to ever say that again. He told me that there was nothing I could have done. I didn't feel that way for a very long time.
Time has certainly dulled the pain of that day. It has not erased my memory of it, just dulled it.
While time has dulled the pain of that day, it has also tarnished my memories of Ray Wilkes. I hate that about time. I had fourteen years of memories and the ones I remember the most are of that awful day twenty-three years ago.
The only memories I have of my baby boy are of while he was in my belly, the few minutes I had before he slipped from this earth, and the time we spent with his sweet little body after. Not much time at all...Not near enough time at all. I never heard his cry or saw his eyes. I never got to have a conversation with him. And now...now time seems to be robbing me of what memories I do have. I can not feel him in my arms anymore. Unless I take out his blanket and smell it, I have a hard time remembering his scent. Those things elude me for some reason. They are just under the surface, I think. At least I feel like they are, but I can not reach them. I have dreamt of him a couple of times but as soon as I wake up, those dreams are gone. Like my memories, they are just beyond my reach. It frustrates me. Just as surely as snow melts on a sunny day, memories fade. Maybe that is why time dulls pain. Whatever the reason, I certainly wish that time would just take the pain and leave the memories. I mean the vivid ones...the ones that you can smell and touch. I try...I try so very hard to hold on to those things.
Chasing time is much like chasing the wind...