What They Had Was Now

“The woman, walking behind them, felt a sudden ache. She wanted more. More days like this. More time together.”

“But the raven and the dog were not thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow meant nothing to them. They delighted in this rush down the autumn marsh, one on the ground, the other skimming above in the air. They loved what they had. What they had was now.”

— p. 78, Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town, Susan Hand Shetterly

My father turned 76 on Wednesday. I called him early in the morning to offer a chipper happy birthday and asked if he felt any different than the day prior, when he was still 75. “Not at all, Lynnie,” he said.

On the agenda for the celebration day was massages for him and my mother and a dinner just the two of them afterwards. We’ll go over for dinner on Sunday. I sent a card. The gift was paired with his Father’s Day present three weeks prior.

On the wall beside the stairway in my home is a framed picture from 1972 or 1973 of me and my dad. He has dark brown hair and heavy sideburns and his face is so young, eager. I look at that as I go up and as I come down every single day and I think about how that was us, not so long ago, but very long ago.

He sits beside me and I am an eager little girl in love with my daddy. He is in love with fatherhood. We make a great pair. Even now, we have lunch almost every week, to connect, to talk, to be together. He is the person I turn to for advice on business, on relationships, on parenting, on life.

my breakfast partner

This morning, Shaya and I, up before the others as always, took his peppermint tea with honey and my coffee with cream onto the balcony. We laid towels on the chairs to absorb the dew. He had a plate of gluten-free toast with butter, cinnamon and honey. I had a bowl of melon. We each carried a book.

I read a chapter on finding an abandoned and injured raven in the woods of Maine and raising it to be a companion. I couldn’t even imagine the care the author took to observe the little body, find the source of its agony, and resurrect its strength with the help of a veterinarian who knows about wild birds.

The companionship of the bird and the dog, who were companions to each other too, and playmates, filled her days. Walks in the woods became different than simply going alone. And the woman pondered the implications of time passing, while the animals simply lived in the moment.

We talk a lot about being here now, not waxing poetic or melancholy about past and future. Not many of us succeed in doing so. If I am only here now, then I cannot succeed in speaking to the crowd waiting for me in Saginaw at today’s luncheon, I cannot provide dinner for my children tonight because I would not have planned or shopped or prepared.

Instead, we sprinkle the now with a little bit of what’s ahead.

This morning, I meditated, which felt good to sink back into my soul. Then I made dough so that tonight, we can have fresh-baked challah for our Shabbat dinner.

It’s been a long time since my last sit-down Shabbat with this family, and this weekend, with Dan out of town and Grace off to her mother’s family, it is just me and my three children, the four of us in an embrace we love to slip inside, the knowing of just the four of us, our bond, our connection.

We will sit at the table and slice the warm bread and whisper Hebrew words to bless it. Asher will sing the prayer over wine. We’ll eat food that nourishes soul and body, and then just slip into the embrace of an evening descending. Perhaps we’ll build a fire in the yard or maybe we’ll climb into bed together and watch a movie.

Whatever it is, we’ll be in the now.

But I digress, because all of this longing for hours from now has taken me away from this moment.

And so. On my desk: waning flowers from the July 4th celebration, still open enough to be resplendent in their red, white and blue hues. A check for golf lessons next week, a phone number for a new friend of Shaya’s, a schedule for the camp outing for the senior organization that is a client.

A letter from Catherine in London postmarked March, to which I have yet to respond. A stack of books I have good intentions of reading but never really notice. A half-consumed pack of gum.

I am surrounded by a swirl of past, present and future. I dip my toe in the waters of now but seem to sway back and forth between time.

Last night: a baseball win, a dinner out, reading by lamp as dark became full, the love of my children the warmest blanket.

It’s a cycle of moments, this life. The raven and the dog have no knowledge of tomorrow; they are here right now, in the moment, accompanying the woman on the wooded trails, a reminder of all that is good and real.

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