September 2022

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A Moment that Lasts Forever

Abigail Graves


I am convinced that if a person could fully absorb a single moment, if they could take in every sound, every shift of the light, every falling particle of dust, if they could capture every second and make it stretch just a second longer, if a person could fully comprehend and appreciate the infiniteness of one single moment... a person could make that moment last forever. 

I cherish my family and the time I get to spend with them, especially given that many of them live across the country. My uncle, aunt, and cousins live in Georgia, but my dad, brother, and I have gone on summer vacation with them every year since I can remember. It is time of fun, relaxation, and reconnecting with loved ones, and as a kid, it seemed like the summers would never end, that year after year we’d have this time together.

However, during undergraduate school, my summer classes prevented me from going on these trips for three summers. In that time, my cousins went through puberty, my dad got remarried, my stepsiblings started going on vacation, and my aunt and uncle got divorced. Life changed when I wasn’t around, and when I came back, I suddenly realized the stark difference in our family dynamic from when I was a kid to now.

I returned, not to find things worse necessarily, but just changed, like a photograph creasing and yellowing with time. It was the same precious moments; they just looked and felt different. My family had a few more members, my dad and uncle had a few more wrinkles, and my cousins and I had a few more responsibilities. The sports got more aggressive while the board games got more methodical; the food tasted better while the drinks tasted strangely more like vodka; the conversations grew in maturity while the pranks stayed as childish as ever. We were different now, and I felt like I had missed the turn of the tide.

Missing three years revealed to me how quickly things change and how blind we are to the subtle shifts in life until we take a step back. My uncle had always looked the same year after year, but suddenly, he was older, just like my brother was suddenly driving, and my cousins were suddenly about to attend college. Ultimately, as more and more of the younger generation left for higher education and more and more of older generation grew grey hair, the summers no longer seemed unending like the ones of my childhood, but rather finite. Finite and rapidly reaching their end. 

This summer, I savored every moment. I understood that any tube ride with my cousins could be my last, that my dad will one day take us all on our last family boat ride, that one summer we will all decide to instead go our separate ways with our separate families and our separate lives. And that, try as I might, I could never possibly know when it will all end.

And so, I took the moments of this summer, and I absorbed them, every bump on a boat ride, every splash of water on my skin, every glisten of the sun on the lake surface. I memorized the feeling of my cousins’ arms entwined with mine, the scowl on my brother’s face after a tubing wipeout, the laugh of uncle as he did donuts on the lake while blasting Welcome to the Jungle. I attempted to fully comprehend and appreciate the blessing of currently existing in a moment that I would cherish for the rest of my life, for such a moment to be a reality rather than a memory.

I can never know which summer vacation will be our last, but I choose to not dwell on what will be lost but, rather, what I currently have. My aim is to love and relish my family to my best abilities until there is no room for regret at the end of our time together. No room for anything but fond memories and nostalgic stories to tell my grandchildren when I am old and grey. 

I may not be able to take a moment and make it stretch on forever, to stop time and live in that instant of peace and contentment eternally, but I can grasp it as it comes and cherish it for what it is. I can give it its due admiration and strive to never take it for granted. For if I can absorb a moment and cherish it for the remainder of my days, haven’t I made it last forever anyway?
 

About the Author

image of author Abigail Graves

Abigail Graves

Originally from small beer-town Shiner, TX, Abigail is currently a master’s student in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in water resources. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M, yet chemistry is still her least favorite science. She works fulltime at an engineering consulting firm specializing in wastewater treatment plant design. She is married, has five dogs and loves anything nerdy, but will break some ankles on the basketball court if needed.

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