A friend of mine recently shared a photograph of his grandson on "moving day," a 4 year old child seated at a small table, looking at a computer screen while surrounded by empty shelves, packed boxes, and the random detritus that hadn't quite yet detached itself from its familiar surroundings-- the stuff that is either so inconsequential or so important as to seem a part of the house until everything else is removed. The photograph struck me as inexplicably sad and moving-- the child as yet innocent to the passage of time and the way it changes things, oblivious even to the change that is upon him, to the way this very room will remain lodged in a corner of his memory that maybe he will associate with the feeling of home or warmth on a dark, distant day. His awareness is likely just dawning that the seasons change, that even this long, harsh winter will end one day soon. But still that understanding cannot cover this -- despite the obvious correlation in the mind of We Who Have Seen so many things slip away.
Why does it stir me so to see him placid in the face of change? Perhaps it's knowing how deeply big changes wound us all as we wind the anchor up to sail on, and need to learn anew the angle of sunlight and cast of wind that will carry us through the day; knowing that children feel these things but cannot put them to words yet. Perhaps it's just the way he's already learning to stare into the blankness of the computer screen as a distraction from his surroundings. Mostly, though, I think it's the knowledge that this is the beginning of his understanding of the way of the world-- perhaps his first taste of "no more" and "gone" and "forever" and "goodbye."