The Big Bang

 In Learning to Listen, Power of Relationships

On the table sat a plastic box that I bought a little over 20 years ago. It was scraped and scratched from all the years of being moved. The lid was dusty and the sides were a little dirty. We had placed it under the stairs when we moved into the house seven years ago. I don’t think it has been touched since then. On it’s side was a label that read “When Caitlyn is 21.”

Every now and then I would come across the box while cleaning the garage or moving. I remembered that gifts were wrapped and letters written to the future 21 year old Caitlyn.

Then, last week one of Jan’s best friends, Bev, came over to help us get ready for Jan’s mom’s 75th birthday party. Jan’s mom, Jean Anne, has had Parkinson’s for 30 years. She’s been in a wheel chair for a while now and speaking is extremely difficult. While making decorations for the party, Bev asked Caitlyn if she had opened her time capsule when she turned 21 in February. We had all completely forgotten about it. So we pulled it out from under the stairs, dust, scratches, cobwebs and all.

I sat on the sofa with Jan and Bev watching Caitlyn take off the lid and start to open the packages and read the cards and letters that were in the box. One perfectly wrapped gift held silver plated spoons that were made in 1867. It was a gift from Jean Anne, Caitlyn’s Grandma whose birthday we were celebrating. As Caitlyn began to read the typed letter, I could see the tears welling in her eyes. Of course, I knew what that meant. As my wife is famous for saying “No one cries alone around me”. Tears were running down Jan’s smiling face.

As Caitlyn finished haltingly reading the letter between tears, she said in an amazement, “I could hear grandma’s voice, just like she was talking to me.” I felt the same way. Everything she wished for Caitlyn were also my wishes. It’s as if Caitlyn had been reading a letter written by me. But what I heard was a voice I had not heard in years due to the Parkinson’s.

The last letter was from Margret, one of Jan’s old bosses. I had not seen Margret in so long it took a few minutes to remember who she was. Her words of admiration for Caitlyn about the depth of love that she saw coming from Jan and I hit me hard.

I never forget how much I love my children. But sometimes I feel that I get lost in all of the complexity that comes with children who are young adults.

The right words truly escape me here, so please bear with my fumbling.

Hearing Caitlyn’s letters woke up the simple and awe inspiring feeling of love that I had as a new parent. Each birth another Big Bang; reminding me of life’s limitless potential.

Jean Anne and Margret’s voices from the past opened my ears to the echoing of those first times I held my daughters in my arms and looked upon their faces with marvel at the creation I was a part of.

Just like cosmology, it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the details that I seemingly lose sight of the wonder right in front of me. Being reminded of this put all the details I worry about into perfect order. Just like this amazing universe I live in and my wife and two beautiful daughters, it all fell into place.

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  • jennifer Jefferis

    Jim, I love your capacity to capture these moments. How you take the time to be present with your family in such simple, precious ways. I admire your ability to love life, love your family, and adore your wife. Jennifer

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