I spent so long hating you. So long entwined with the idea that you were running at a pace three steps too fast, laughing at me as I buckled over in a desperate attempt to catch my breath. I resented the way I couldn’t control you, the way your busy hands outreached mine and changed everything I wanted so deeply to remain the same. I was infuriated by the way the past always seemed so much prettier, but you never stopped stealing it. It tore me up to know that there are places in life I would already have been to for the last time.
You were kind of like that word that everybody else knew the meaning of but me. One I waited too long to ask about, so eventually I just began to play along. Like it’s a game of broken telephone and I was the last one in line, my message got mixed and I’ve been looking at you differently than the rest of the world ever since.
I goggled your name in a sea of others and regardless of what the dictionary spit out all I heard was that the happiness that belongs to today will soon belong to yesterday, and to be honest that broke my heart.
Yet everyone else seemed to flow with you. People kept looking forward to milestones as if they could afford to shake off the day that clutched desperately onto my pant leg. “I can’t wait until December, I wish we could just fast forward” as if the space that stood between now and then was nothing but sand stumbling through clumsy fingers, emptying hourglasses like they could be flipped over and restarted.
I always thought of myself as an optimistic person, but damn you shook me. No matter what angle I analyzed, you were still just the lingering shadow in the rear view mirror that I was trying to outrun. The truth is, I never even wanted to get along with you.
As I got older, things started happening. Big, terrible, heartbreaking things, but you and your one track mind just kept on passing. I saw pieces of people around me’s worlds being torn apart but you still didn’t slow down, not for a second. I watched as you threw loved ones off your cargo as if someone’s son was disposable or like some fathers simply didn’t need a tomorrow. The world kept on turning and you just kept on moving blindly like nothing happened. I decided then that nothing wholesome would ever refuse to pause for the broken, and that you in all your disregard were a force to be feared.
So I’d sit down at night and pray to God like I didn’t know I believed in, like He could protect me from your greedy hands. I’d pray I could be like the children or the animals that had no concept of your passing, they seemed so free from your grip.
But somehow, something changed.
I was told once that butterflies only lived a few weeks. I never understood why they didn’t seem to care that they were cheaped out of time. I wondered if maybe you seemed to pass slower for them out of sympathy, or if they looked the way they did because they had to try to pack all of the beauty of life into a matter of days. I wondered if I knew I only had twelve days left, how beautiful my life would be.
Then I took a second look and realized I didn’t recognize you anymore. You didn’t look harsh or forceful, of all things…you started seeming kind.
See I’d been blaming you for the very thing I should have been thanking you for. And it’s ironic that time had to pass for me to see the value in passing time, but overnight you became the most valuable thing I’d ever claimed.
I started opening my eyes a little more. I started noticing things that I’d kept overlooking in my pursuit to preserve you. I found the truth in ‘time is money’, but instead of saving you, I cashed out and started spending.
And I spent exactly what I wanted, where I wanted it. I spent more of you with my family, the people who built me. I spent more of you on myself, on all the things I forgot I loved. I spent more of you on taking risks, on things that threatened the fact you’d still keep coming back. I discovered that although I couldn’t control you, I could control everything I filled you with.
The truth is, I needed you.
I needed you for when I discovered my passion for music and writing and that all of those things couldn’t be done without you.
I needed you for when I realized what love is, when I told a girl that I’d rather waste my time doing nothing with her than doing something with anybody else.
I needed you for when things got dark and I felt lost, I needed you to keep pushing forward so I could find my fresh start.
I needed you for when I moved across the world, for when I almost turned around until I remembered how much of you I’d invested to get here.
I needed you for when I sat around a table with my best friends singing songs we used to love when we were 13, and I needed you to realize everything is different- but everything is good. I understand that all the happiness and sadness, the loneliness and excitement of passing time have become packed inside of us – and they make us who we are. I realize now, I was never losing, I was building.
I am a sum of you and all of our shared yesterdays.
So thank you for pressing on. Thank you for setting the sun on my rough days and rising on my good. Thank you for the clean slates and the heartbreaks, the healed wounds and the promising plans. Thank you for giving me more of yourself than I probably deserve. Thank you letting me live more at 21 than some people do at 81. Thank you for being patient enough to wait until I fell in love with you.
I apologize in advance for the future. I’ll probably curse you again someday when I have kids and they start growing up with every blink. I’ll wish more than anything you would slow down and let me take it all in. When I grow old and end comes to end I’ll feel greedy and long for more, but know now that I forgive you for the day the sun rises without me, because of all the beautiful days you let me wake up with it.
Please accept this apology with pride and know that I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your time.