To fully live that golden hour


Last weekend was one of those golden, empty-of-all-plans weekends.  We spent it at my parents’ house on the coast, one of our very favorite places.  On Saturday morning my parents left for two separate out-of-town commitments, and the four of us looked ahead at two empty days with delight.  We simply hung out.  There was golf, tennis, hamburgers on the grill and dinner for four at the table on the back porch.  There was reading on the couches, a game of Clue, many games of Mancala. There was some shouting and a lot of hugging.  In short, it was our regular family life.

One thing that’s critically important to me is that my children know how precious it is to be alone, the four of us.  I want them to know how much I prize that time.  My attachment to these empty family hours grows ever fiercer and my experience of them shimmers with more and more beauty.  I am sure this is correlated to my keen sense of how limited they are, days with no plans and only each other for company.  These are the days I know they will remember as their childhood with a capital C, the days I’ll turn over in my pocket years and years from now like touchstones smoothed from repeated touching: them sprawled out on top of their beds asleep in the heat, the smell of sunscreen on Whit’s head when I kissed it, the clatter of Mancala pebbles as they played, talking quietly to each other.

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was Saturday afternoon at the beach.  I love the coast; for many reasons I have explored before, there’s something about this border between two worlds, this place that the moon demonstrates its power over the tides, this land of shells and myriad blues that feels like home.  On Saturday I stood where the ocean meets the land and watched my three family members’ heads, dark and sleek as otters, bobbing towards the wooden raft off the shore.  They clambered up and waved to me, arms above their heads, exaggerated as though they were miles away.

Then I watched Grace jump off the raft into the ocean.  She came up, broke the surface, and even from the shore I could see her grin.  It was 5 weeks to the day since she broke her collarbone.  I felt a wash of simultaneous wonder and gratitude, and saw the ghostly, broken bones on the x-ray in my head.   My eyes filled with tears as I thought about how healing happens, inexorably, undeniably, mostly invisibly.

And I stood there, shallow waves lapping at my feet, watching my children hurl themselves over and over again from the raft into the ocean, hearing their laughter, trying to simply be there.  I fought to keep my observer self inside my body, instead of letting her slip out and hover apart, watching, chronicling.  No: I squished my toes into the sand, felt the sun on my arms, squinted to watch Grace and Whit having a cannonball contest.  Trying to fully live that golden hour, even as I knew it was running through my fingers as I watched it.

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  1. Posted June 28, 2012 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    A gorgeous ode to the life and family. A beautiful way for me to start the day. Thanks, Lindsey. As ever. xo

  2. Renee
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a heavenly day! I hope you all find yourselves with a few more golden hours to delight in!

  3. Margaret
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I am realizing that I’m drawn to your blog for many reasons, but topping the list is that I aspire to have a family life like yours. You are doing everything right. I am not. But my childhood was much how you describe life with your children. I believe my husband’s was similar. We are trying. Finding it harder to fight the interruptions of our time together as a core family of 4 as the children get older and as career demands and other responsibilities cause stress. Keep sharing and inspiring. It helps me to stay focused on what’s most important. Thanks Lindsey!

  4. Posted June 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful memory captured. I can so relate to the feeling of trying to fully live in those golden moments. As an over-thinker and being keenly aware of the passage of time, I want to so perfectly capture the moments/experiences that mean the most to me. It’s a constant struggle to balance capturing/observing and actually experiencing/living.

  5. Jill
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    My favorite part of this post is your description of how you fought so
    hard to be present. I love the description – pushing your toes in the sand, squinting, feeling. I’m reading it as a prescription – a how-to. So often I find myself slipping away. My default is to spend that instant chastising myself, which of course, just takes me farther away! Thanks for revealing the humanity in that struggle- and offering a guide towards coming back. When you write about that here, I notice a gentleness that you seem to
    have towards yourself in your struggle. It’s offering me another way to look
    at things.

  6. Posted June 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Golden hour, or hours, love it. So true. We are so overbooked these days. Plans all the time. People for dinner, lunch, meeting people at the pool, etc. I value our friends, but things seem a bit out of control (something that occurred to me reading THIS.)

  7. Nicci
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    ” I fought to keep my observer self inside my body, instead of letting her slip out and hover apart, watching, chronicling. ” I know this fight. But it sounds like you won – what a well-lived summer day! Love your blog. xo

  8. Posted June 30, 2012 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Love your description of this. Both the open unplanned hours with just family and the something very special that a day by the sea brings are wholly my experience as well. In younger single years it wasn’t like that, but I am different now. Changed by motherhood and the years on a fundamental level and I know now how precious those things are. Thank you for painting it so well.

  9. Posted July 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    amazingly beautiful.

  10. Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    lindsey, you have inspired me. after months of hemming and hawing, i am finally starting my blog today!! these moments are too precious not to capture, and capturing them also allows me to be more present in them. thank you!