There are days that are full of moments. Moments of pristine clarity, the colors jewel-bright, the sight and the scent and the feel of them fusing into a single point so intense, it sears itself into the surface of my brain, and out of the pinprick point comes a single word: perfect.
I want these moments indelibly imprinted on my memory, not only to hold them for my own sake–because the camera is never on hand–but also so that I can draw on the details that can bring to life the words and scenes I write somewhere down the line. If I want to write stories that hinge on the drama in ordinary lives, I need these moments.
But how do I internalize them so deeply that they spring forth when they’re needed? How do I draw a word picture of a three-year-old sitting in a toy Jeep wearing homemade monkey ears, his face perfectly completing the image of monkey mischief? How do I hold on to the timbre and mannerisms of small childhood, of Nicholas singing “Twinkle Twinkle/Baa Baa Black Sheep/ABC” from the moment he wakes in the morning until the moment he falls asleep at night, until I want to build a time machine just so I can shoot Mozart before he writes it?
How do I capture the feeling of amused tenderness as Alex, playing Spiderman, whisper-shouts to himself, as he pirouettes and rolls to the ground, posing against soft emerald grass in the evening twilight? The awe in trying to comprehend how the baby of my heart can get so big on nothing but food, air and sunshine?
How do I remember Michael leaning back in the Snugli, his eyes bright with wonder as he looks up at the trees on a woodland hike? How do I preserve the holiness of the moment when I realize he can’t make up his mind what makes him happier: looking at the trees and the sky, or looking at my face? How do I evoke the path, pebbles and sand and rock and clay, or the liquid light of near-sunset falling across Michael’s face as his mouth splits open in a soundless shriek of joy?
How do I put you in the moment when I enter the room to see Julianna lying in bed with her bottom bouncing up and down under the covers in the darkness? How do I make you feel the warmth of her small hand as I whisper to her and lead her to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
How do I remember the exact sensation of nursing and playing handsies with a baby whose fingers wrap perfectly around my thumb. How is that even possible, a whole hand wrapped around my thumb?
I think Heaven must be made of those perfect moments. A whole mountain of those lost, perfect points of time. Moments when that which is sensed and that which is beyond sense reach across space and time and, oh so fleetingly, touch.