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I Shall Not Pass This Way Again

I shall not pass this way again—with a five and three-year-old in tow and another growing inside, no larger than a lemon. And the children spending the hours in play while I sit with my feet propped up and my energy gone at 9 am. I know that the nausea and exhaustion will eventually pass, and that the time spent napping while the children talk to themselves in their quiet times is time well spent. 

There is a contentment in the now even though I’ve stopped cleaning and my brain has turned to mush and I can hardly stomach the scent of the dinners I make. There is still a contentment because this moment shall soon be gone. 

There shall never be another now. It has already passed. And yet, neither its departure nor the knowledge that all time is fleeting has soured the enjoyment of this: the daily having of moments. It nourishes and feeds like food, more so when I don’t scarf it down but savor the bite of white cheddar or the tartness of strawberries, when I see the steam rising off my tea or the lenticular pods of citrus juice within each orange segment. 

These moments parallel eating because the last thirteen weeks have been a battle with food. I don’t want to see it or smell it or think about it, but if I don’t eat it, I shall be sick. So I grasp at anything that doesn’t make my throat constrict and hope that it’s iron rich. 

Now the nausea subsides, and I can eat regular-sized meals, and I work up an appetite. And food has never seemed so glorious. I notice it more. And relish it all. But I’m not morose about what I’ve eaten after it’s gone. And to keep it in my mouth for longer than necessary is just gross. I enjoy and swallow, then take time to play and work before the next meal.

I'm talking about these dear little children who finger my straight hair and say that it’s soft or who ask to put chapstick on my lips or who request a game of rock, paper, scissors. These fleeting moments cannot be grasped or prolonged. Each day comes with its allotment of funny questions and adorable expressions and mispronounced words, and then they are gone. And I let them go, jotting some of them down, photographing others, but letting most, especially the tantrums and outbursts, fade behind me. I cannot dwell on my own mood swings either or the words that came gushing out of my mouth because I'm emotionally unstable when my body is making a baby. It's okay to feel run down and not always speak wise words. As Phil says, they're moments for others to learn grace. I must not brood or shame myself for my folly. I have passed that way already. I shall not pass it again. 

But the good moments and the mistakes aren’t over. They never run out. Even when the children are grown and moved away. The moments continue in different forms, with different colors and different tones. And I mustn’t try to grasp at the beauty of yesterday’s blooms unless I wish for these children of mine to cease growing and never to learn to eat moments for themselves.

 I shall not pass this way again—
Although it bordered be with flowers,
Although I rest in fragrant bowers,
And hear the singing
Of song-birds winging
To highest heaven their gladsome flight;
Though moons are full and stars are bright,
And winds and waves are softly sighing
While leafy trees make low replying;
Though voices clear in joyous strain
Repeat a jubilant refrain;
Though rising suns their radiance throw
On summer’s green and winter’s snow,
In such rare splendor that my heart
Would ache from scenes like these to part;
Though beauties heighten,
And life-lights brighten,
And joys proceed from every pain,
I shall not pass this way again.

Then let me pluck the flowers that blow,
And let me listen as I go
To Music rare
That fills the air;
And let hereafter
Songs and laughter
Fill every pause along the way;
And to my spirit let me say:
‘O soul, be happy; soon ’tis trod,
The path made thus for thee by God.
Be happy thou, and bless His name
By whom such marvelous beauty came.’

-First two stanza's of “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again” by Eva Rose York


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