On Time and Feelings and Cartoons

What is it with me and Pixar movies? I watched Finding Nemo on Saturday night with Felix in my lap for part of it and managed not to cry. Barely.

Though I did have a big schmaltzy lump in my throat when the dad holds little Nemo’s cracked egg in his hands and promises not to let anything happen to his son. Recognizing, of course, that this was one of the messages of the movie—that it’s impossible for a parent to prevent their child from ever being harmed, and that a certain amount of emotional letting go is necessary for a healthy parent/child relationship to develop—still I found myself back in the NICU, my protective instinct flaring up. During the commercial break I followed these feelings into dark daydreams, imagining how I might feel if something happened to Felix, and my chest constricted for a tick before I remembered to breathe deep and appreciate the vulnerability, instead of getting carried away.

In this way—by feeling deeply a wide range of emotions and being more consciously affected by their crest and fall—I’m finding that Felix has changed my life in a way I could’ve never anticipated. Every moment feels bigger than it used to, because my awareness has become more sensitive. I am more closely attuned, trying to hold on to each instant long enough to make a mental note or to let the image burn itself onto my memory, secure only in the knowledge that I’ll never get it all down or be able to find it later even if I could. The fleetingness of time increases its worth, like a fragile piece of thrown porcelain whose like can never be duplicated.

That’s always been the case, and a part of me has known it, but only now, watching this baby grow and change from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment, have I really understood. I want to protect and hold and horde, but I have to let go. I want to remember it all, but I’ll forget. Such is life.

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