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Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About Time Traveling

F E B R U A R Y

Grandma had been getting confused more and more often.

It’d started back around the beginning of the year, I suppose. Probably sooner, though no one had taken significant notice to her occasional forgetfulness. And then all the sudden it started happening all the time, every day, as if overnight she’d become an entirely different person half the time; one half, someone she was, the other half, someone she’d once been. One minute she’d be eating her dinner with the family and the next she’d be eating dinner with her two young sons and husband, almost 60 years ago. She’d tell them to settle down, “Eat your food!” and ask how her husband’s day had been. A couple bites later, she might return completely unaware that she’d drifted off to another dimension for a few moments.

The doctors called it Alzheimer’s.

I called it time travel.

And although the world seemly views this as a terrible and negative thing, I started to think that maybe it was kind of beautiful. To be teleported back to all the most significant and memorable parts of your life. To feel as though you were actually reliving them and not just replaying them in your mind.

To be in two places at once.

She’d revisited her life starting back when she was young and in school. She loved reading and writing and talking with her girlfriends. Soon, she’d reached the part of her youth where she’d met my grandpa, a young man in the Navy. She’d talk of dancing with him all night and glowed so beautifully on the day she’d returned to her wedding.

“He’s The One,” she insisted. What she didn’t know was that I already knew that.

Although times were hard with the love of her life almost never being home, the two welcomed a baby shortly after they’d married. I am told there is no joy like having a child for the first time. And I’m sure there is no joy like reliving that exact feeling almost 70 years later. These, one could easily tell, were some of her happiest memories; giving her baby a bath, taking her baby on walks, and the joy she’d felt having her little family all together when her husband returned home.

What would it be like? I’d started to wonder all the time. What would it be like to live a life so full and beautiful and feel as though you were physically returning to moments I, her great grand daughter, had only seen in pictures? To revisit her husband who had passed before I was even born and go on her very first date with him? To hear her first child cry for the very first time again? To dance again at her wedding and be surrounded by her family and friends who’d been gone for years? What would it be like? I could only imagine.

Thankfully, I started to realize, I could only imagine.

Because not every moment in life is beautiful.

Nine months, her baby had lived. Only nine. I’m not sure what happened, even now, as she was never clear when she’d returned to that time and it seems too painful for my family to speak of. I only know that she cried a lot. She was very angry. Once, she’d taken one of the dolls she’d kept at her house for me to play with when I was little and cuddled it for hours whispering his name.

What would it be like to relive your worst day over again?

But of course, time did not stop. Not then, and not as she relived those days. She had another baby. And then another; my great uncle and grandfather. She loved them both more than anything of course, but visited her first born son often still.

She became a grandmother, she found her faith. When I was little, I remember asking Mom for an old book to carry around all the time to read, just like Grandma. At 5 and 6 years old, I had no idea it was her Bible.

As my family reported stories of my great grandmother’s travels through time while I was away at college, I simply could not stop thinking of her. I thought of my own life and places I, myself, would return to. Performing at every Tuesday night open mic night. The day my little brother was born. Every second with my sister. Falling in love for the first time…

But what would it be like to travel aimlessly to memories that you hadn’t hand-selected? What would it be like to not have a choice?

Like the day we lost her…

Dear Future Self, I’m not sure how old you are as you’re reading this right now. Maybe you’re in your forties and stumbled upon this old journal of sorts that you used to write in in your twenties. Maybe you’re going through a mid life crisis and need some laughs. Or maybe you’re in your eighties and have kept these words all these years and are reflecting back on your life, because I hope you keep this book forever. This way, you can always be a time traveler.

And you can choose what your destination is.

I hope we’ve made our life beautiful.