Fireflies In a Jar
Written by
Tess Hardwick
April 2011
Written by
Tess Hardwick
April 2011

Every spring I’m surprised by the early blooming cherry blossoms.  I’ve looked for them all February and sometimes March, on a cold year like this one, promising myself that I will see their buds of promise before they actually bloom, so as not to miss one moment of their luscious soft blooming after all the months of nuanced shades of gray. But every year they are there, suddenly, without me having predicted or anticipated them.  And I’m filled with a kind of loss, a sense of having missed a moment in time I’ll never regain.  For they have bloomed and are gone faster than I can savor them as they deserve to be savored.

My father was a teacher in the small town I grew up in.  I never had him, as the timing was off.  When I was in grade school, he taught middle school, when I was in middle school he was at a different job.  But when I was in college, he taught for several years at the elementary school I had once attended.  There, in the school library, were the reminders of my presence - my name in library books, scrawled in my childish handwriting.  He was always finding them, he said, with my name on the little check out sheet pasted at the front of the book.  It gave him a strange sensation, he said, of having missed something, having missed the small me that was there hidden in the lines of those books.

Today I was at our local library with my youngest daughter, picking up the books I’d ordered about women pilots in WWII.  (Research for a new novel -after I finish the depression era beast).  Anyway, there was a woman next to us at the checkout counter with a tiny baby, maybe four months old, and a little girl, probably three.  And I looked at my big, almost five year old next to me, she insists on being the one who scans the books with the ‘bleeper’, and I thought, how did she get from there to here without me noticing?

Time in seconds, minutes, hours, it keeps moving one moment after another, in a succession that makes a life.  We want to capture the beautiful moments in our hands, as if they were fireflies in the night air, and put them in a jar.  We want to hold all that’s precious close to our hearts, like a snapshot we can look at over and over.  But alas, this is not the way of the world.  We can only enjoy the moment when it happens, savoring it like something sweet in our mouths.



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