Fun With Freewriting – Week 11: Life slips you by

Who’s ready for another slice of freewriting fun? I’m not sure where this one came from really, I was just wondering how someone would feel if they’d got so far in their life and realised how much they’d missed. Time is a cruel thing, not letting you go back and change anything. Sometimes you just have to live with that fact …

Looking too far ahead can be dangerous, it can cause you to lose sight of what’s happening in that moment. Without even realising it you’re wishing your life away, longing for what may or may not happen. By pinpointing and fixating on a particular achievement, the majority of your time is spent striving towards that point, constantly thinking about it and working towards it.

A lot of the time this means bypassing everything else happening in life, sidestepping all other responsibilities just so that you can maintain that focus. This is how life slips you by.

This is what happened to Trevor, and he only realised it when he came home one evening and found his grown up son and daughter were like strangers to him. He had no idea what kind of people they’d become, what they were even doing with their lives, and had no recollection of their journeys from infant to adult.

It only started to bother him when he realised how well they both got on with his wife, their mother. She seemed to know all the details of their lives; who their friends were, what their hobbies were. He didn’t even know they had jobs, let alone what they could be.

And yet he looked at his son and saw a reflection of himself, his own image from so many years ago, but diluted slightly with some of his wife’s feature. He wondered to himself, just how could it be that a face so familiar could be so alien all at the same time. On the outside he felt like he knew this person, this product of his own genetics, and yet the inside was totally foreign, an enigma he found impossible to unravel.

He was sure he could remember them being born, bringing them home and those first tentative steps into parenthood. But as he sat with all the family photo albums scattered around him on the living room floor, he realised how little he’d actually witnessed for himself. He didn’t even recall the most important times, birthdays and Christmas’s. Surely he’d been around for those? And his wife’s birthdays? Their anniversaries?

As the enormity of all that he’d missed hit home in his mind, his head felt heavy on his shoulders. Emotions began to overwhelm him throughout, he felt his shoulders shaking as the sobs came, unexpected and unimpeded. He didn’t cry out, just letting the tears fall freely down his cheeks until they soaked his shirt.

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