Letting the days go by - Shawn Loughlin editorial
As Tallulah has turned three, I’ve caught myself thinking a lot about time. That night (after she’d gone to sleep), I went to take pictures at the Hullett Central Public School graduation ceremony and that feeling hit me even harder.
First, I spoke to a friend and told her that my little girl had just turned three that day and she told me that I’d blink and she’d be 30. The first three years have gone by in the blink of an eye, so I believe it. Plus, that’s far from the first time I’ve heard that one.
Then, I spoke to another friend who was there to mark her daughter’s graduation from Grade 8. Her older daughter was there too, not very far removed from the ceremony herself. I was thinking that I’d bet my friend felt that way as well, that it wasn’t that long ago that she brought her little girl to the school’s “Calling All Three-Year-Olds” program to familiarize the next class of little ones with school before Kindergarten in the fall.
I wondered how long it would be (in Dad years - I know how long it will be in actual years, obviously) until I was at that school, my daughter ready to head on to high school.
I remember one night, watching television, when I saw a short trailer for a documentary on HBO called How Do You Measure a Year? It’s a short film that shows a father interviewing his daughter on home video on her birthday, asking the same questions every year as she grows from being a toddler to a young woman. Even just the trailer made me well up (for further reading on this, please consult a column I wrote years back about how I cry at just about anything - which was written before we had kids, so, yeah) and it had the same effect on Jess.
Thinking of that film, and the document it created between a father and a daughter over a period of such growth, I was simultaneously blown away at the beauty of it all and saddened by how quickly, it seems, time can go by.
We decided to have kids later in life, so I joke with Jess, whenever she talks about “guy” stuff Cooper and I will get to do later on in his life, that when we go fishing or play catch, Cooper will have a lot of fun with it all, wheeling me in my wheelchair. But, there’s also another way to look at the passage of time and think of it as a positive.
Yes, we get older and we’re not quite as quick on our feet and, not unsurprisingly, the people around us tend to get older too. But we have to remember that we are the lucky ones.
I recall talking to Jess about this too. As someone who has lost a sibling tragically and far too young, Jess knows that not everyone gets to reach all the milestones you might want them to reach. I think it was when people around her began to turn 30 and there was a lot of complaining about “getting old”, maybe some of it even from me, that she lamented that some people didn’t realize how lucky they were and that not everyone got to turn 30.
That’s not to make her sound bitter or angry, which she wasn’t, but more like a wise take on something that, to many of us at that age, was pretty cut and dried. We were getting older and it sucked. Not so, if you think about it.
Going back to the title of that documentary, how do you measure a year? What do you try to accomplish in a year? What do you learn? Think about all you get to do, all you get to see and all of the people you get to spend time with over the course of a year. We’re lucky to do these things, see these things and be with these people, just as they’re lucky to be with us... year after year after year.