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  • C.S. Smith

Live, From the Top of the Roller Coaster

If you have ever braved riding a roller coaster, you know that feeling as you reach the summit of the long climb upwards and are cresting over the hill, about to plunge into freefall. For some people, this moment is an exhilarating rush, for others a moment of terror that has them questioning their sanity for getting on the ride in the first place. The fall is brief but intense, and before you know it, the ride has come to an end.


This summer is shaping up to be a roller coaster ride for my family. This past weekend, I had reached the peak of the first hill, preparing to freefall at dizzying speeds through the next four months. It started on Thursday with my son’s arrival home from college. Friday, I spent at the hospital with my father as my mom had knee surgery. Saturday, I dropped my son off at the airport and made sure he properly checked in for his trip to Vietnam on a Maymester experience. We are on the downhill now to end-of-school exams; my youngest daughter’s trip to Spain; my own travel to my high school class reunion, and then to a writers conference; cross country camps; NROTC duty; the beach; a dive trip; and before you know it, back to college, back to high school, and back to real life. The usual grind begins again with the obvious markers of advancing time – new grade levels and one step closer to having three fully-formed adults and an empty nest.


What does this all mean in the grand scheme of life? I’m trying to slow down long enough to focus on gratitude – that my family is fortunate enough to have these enriching experiences, that we are all happy and in good health. I know what a blessing this is. As I try to carve out time to write in this wonderful madness, I am mindful of the swift passage of time. In two short years, another child will be out in the world on his own, and my youngest will be beginning her college journey. It’s easy to get so busy trying to simply survive the chaos that you don’t stop to appreciate its meaning until your house echoes with the ghosts of children past.


Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to being able to devote more time and energy to my writing career and myself (and I know my husband would love some additional attention), but I am finally becoming aware that the time passing is time I will never get back. I need to store these precious memories, not just get through each day.


I’m on the downslope, racing to the finish of this particular summer ride. I’m trying to keep my eyes open and enjoy the experience, no matter how quickly it passes.


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