Like a lot of things that happen so slowly that we barely notice, we change too. Certainly our bodies change, and that might be the most obvious marker of the passage of time. A little more subtle — or more hidden — are the changes in how we think. Our perspective on things.
During my most recent reread, there was a new passage that resonated. Natalie's beloved grandmother was spending her final days in a nursing home. Natalie feels compelled to visit. Though senility has robbed her grandmother of the knowledge of her granddaughter, they share a moment of intimacy that's almost too much to take. When Natalie was a young girl, she would often ask her grandmother to repeat the story of how she met her grandfather. She would begin by saying "Shall I tell you a story? About a glory? How to begin it? There's nothing in it." All of these years later, lying next to her in a nursing home bed:
"Grandma, tell me a story," I beseeched her.
She answered, "About a glory?"
I said, "How to begin it?"
"There's nothing in it, she said.
I am not surprised that this passage hit me so hard this time around, because things have definitely changed in my life. Things that make this account so much more real. No, the big surprise is how I missed it all of those other times. Was I that different back then. Apparently so.
All of this serves as a confirmation that I have places to go and that time might be short. You just never know. In Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Late For Your Life," the chorus brings up the idea that our search can often be full of both right and wrong turns, the point being that we shouldn't let it stop us: "Call it chance or call it fate/Either one is cause to celebrate/Still the question begs why would you wait/And be late for your life."
Thank you, old friend. I hope we meet some day.