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Did Anyone Happen to See my Life? Rochelle Goldman, 1992

June 4, 2018

Rochelle Goldman

Did anyone happen to see my life? It was here a moment ago (as bright and clear as can be.) Where did it go?

Did you see my childhood? It seems as if it just slipped through my fingers. Perhaps it is because I was so ordinary and plain. I remember being rather pretty until the age of ten. I believe the same fairy Godmother who turned Cinderella into a princess turned me into the “ugly duckling.” I was a gangly skinny kid with frizzy hair. The other children loved to make fun of me. One thing for sure…I knew my family loved me. They were pleased when I did well but still loved me when I didn’t. Maybe that is why it is so difficult to find my youth. There was nothing unusual about it. It wasn’t exactly the “Leave it to Beaver” family. It was more like the “Bunker family.”

Did you see me as a young housewife and mother of two little babies? It was just your average family trying to get by on a husband’s meager salary. Can you see me as a young mom sitting with my young children watching the funeral of the president on TV? Can you see the anguish on our faces as we hear the newsman discussing the unbelievable events surrounding the events of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? It was as watching a movie as the horse drawn caisson is carrying the coffin containing my hero. My mundane life stopped when he appeared before the camera. This man from Camelot to Me could do no wrong. Can’t you see us weeping? I guess not. Everybody seemed to be in pain and weeping.

I am right near it now. I am sure somebody can find my life now. This is the time I find myself a statistic. I become pregnant while on birth control pills. “How could this happen?” someone asks. My two children are older, more independent. There are no more baby bottles and diapers. It is an easier life. Well, so much for that!!! I truly believed one could plan that part of your life. When one wanted a baby you just “did it” and nine months later, you had a baby. Now, I start to realize that planning lives is not that simple. I found that out earlier with the tragedy of losing my father at the young age of 59. Can you see me now? Am I that contented woman lying in a hospital bed? I am holding a baby boy and saying this time, I am going to do it right. I am going to raise him, not by books, not by other people’s advice, but by trying to give him all of my love. This is my rebirth.

See that woman sitting in the corner of a little boy’s blue room. Is that me? I am no longer young. Most of all, I am no longer happy. I look so empty, so sad. I am staring at a bedspread, decorated with sports pennants. The walls are bare. Six months before, they were full of pictures and sports memorabilia containing all of his heroes. That young man who at the age of thirteen barely had a chance to taste life is gone. The world has become colorless. There are no more rainbows. I see myself sitting in pain, hugging a picture of a dark-haired boy taken at his bar mitzvah with the headline, “Man of the Year.”

How could this have happened? First, God gives the gift of life and then takes it away in a matter of a few seconds. I do not like anyone who gives you a gift and then takes it back. Oh, how I long for time to pass quickly so that I can die and end this misery. I know that everyone tells me I have much to live for but, except for a few loved ones, I am not sure for what. I think that I am starting to remember where my life went. I am sure I put it somewhere so that I would be able to find it, but where?

I find myself at a piano, a beautiful dark cherrywood grand piano, playing, singing, and teaching young children to play and love music as I do…I am laughing and I seem happy. It doesn’t look like the same life…maybe that’s why I can find it. I might not be that person.

What is there in my life to connect it with my past? Behind the piano as I am playing there stands a crotchety old man smiling. In his smile there are tears, some of sadness and some of pride in this lady. I remember that he was the handsome young man in an army uniform with a pipe drooping from the corner of his mouth who swept me off his feet. I was sixteen and all that mattered to me was to spend the rest of my life with him, for better or for worse, and there was a bit of both. Is this the life that I have misplaced?  There still is something missing. I have been so absorbed in searching for my lost child these last ten years that I forgot to live.

No! That can’t be! I am a survivor. I must keep looking. That lady at the piano…is that me? Am I that woman? I will find my last ten years. The young children I was teaching have left. I am still playing the piano and beside me stands a young boy and girl. They are so beautiful: I just keep admiring them. I wonder if they are the same boy and girl that I saw earlier sitting with the young “mom” watching the funeral of the president. That can’t be. Those children are adults now. They also have experienced the joys and sorrows of life.

Now, I know where my life went. It has really been the continuance of life through others, my children, grandchildren, my husband, and others. Thank you for helping me find my life. I will guard it more closely now. If there is a next time, I might not be able to find it. Life is so fragile and lifetime is so short. I should cherish it more. I should learn to appreciate the experiences and derive the joy and happiness from my memories.

Rochelle Goldman

Spring 1992

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