I just sat here for about five minutes trying to remember what it was I was going to write about. I had started to write it in my head this morning—always a mistake to not write it down. I’m sure all my best ideas have been lost to malfunctioning, inept, or rotting neurons.
The great irony? It was, of course, about forgetting. Or rather, forgetting being the key developmental milestone of aging. There comes a time, in life, when the developmental firsts are fewer and farther between.
Initially in life, they come so quickly, one can hardly keep up—holding one’s head up independently, rolling over, grabbing at objects, sitting up unassisted, up on all fours, crawling, pulling up, standing, stepping, walking all over your parents. Not to mention the verbal milestones…babbling, sounds in imitation, first words, two-word phrases, sentences....
Then, they slow down. Baby books are abandoned. The first tooth is lost. The first word is read. And then many years later, the first period, first kiss…first heartbreak. And as you make your way into your twenties they come even more slowly…the first job, the first apartment, the first marriage. All this while, you’re still growing, still developing in important ways.
And then suddenly you aren’t. Suddenly you find yourself saying to your daughter:
“Sophia, can you please help me find the raspberries. I know I had half a box of them. I gave you some in your lunch this morning, and then I put the rest of them away. But I can’t find them for the life of me.”
Sophie peeks into the fridge, lackadaisically moves an item or two and says, “I don’t see them either, Mom.”
I keep looking, exasperated. What the hell could I have done with them? Five minutes later, after a fruitless search, I give up.
The next day, I’m making breakfast and I open up one of the cabinets. There, sitting atop the dishes are the raspberries, room temperature, but in tact. I feel a touch of panic in my stomach. I have started to go backwards. I have developmental decay.
Isn’t this how it started for my grandmother? She thought people were coming out of her television to steal her food. That’s what she said, once we started noticing something was wrong. Once we intervened. What came before that? What were the earliest signs? I show Kevin the raspberries and make him promise, for the third time that month, that he will change my diapers, when, inevitably, I will no longer be able to control my bodily functions.
“It’s just stress. You’re doing too much,” Kevin assures me, adding the raspberries to his cereal.
“You’re evading the question.” I note. “Just say yes.”
“Yes,” says Kevin, rolling his eyes, and, likely crossing his fingers behind his back. I just know he is going to put me in a home.
Since that time, when I have an episode of forgetting—I misplace my keys, I can’t remember why I walked into the room, I forget to go to the gymnastics make up class I scheduled because I forgot to take Sophie to the original gymnastics class, Kevin smirks and says, “Raspberries!”
Easy for him to say, as he has yet to break 40, and to my knowledge, has never left fruit where it doesn’t belong. I give him my most exasperated smile, but underneath I feel a twinge of fear. I just was getting the hang of life. I’m not ready to start aging.
Oh, I suppose there are still many firsts ahead—but I’m ready to stop running towards the next milestone. I spent so many years wanting to grow up, to be older and able to do more. Now, here I am—making up the rules, paying the bills, calling the shots—and I want to push pause. Not go back, but stand still and enjoy life in the middle.