Cold rain pattered on the window. An old man gave a cold look out from inside. Fog filled his eyes. A fog of old memories. Warm old memories in the cool dark. The rain kept falling. And the man kept falling too. Falling and falling into a well of the past. Sights and sounds fell into his consciousness like drops of water, and the feelings rippled out like waves.
How long had it been? Like yesterday. Like a thousand years. Like a moment. An eternal present of a lifetime ago that was now. The past lingered in the presence of the room like an old friend that couldn’t say goodbye. Old friends had come and gone, but not without leaving something behind. That something was in the room now.
It was an odor. A sweet incense. It permeated the room like perfume. His nose noted its presence. His mouth tasted its sweetness. He saw it like a swirling fog. He heard it like a quiet wind. So immersed in this flood of senses, he felt he might drown.
And so he struggled to breathe. His form was frail. His lungs were weak. And the flood was so strong it filled his eyes with tears and his breath with sobbing gasps. His head fell forward, and his whole body shook.
Remembering was a joyful pain. He had lived a good life. He had won riches and lost fortunes. All he had now, though, was his memories. And he clung them close to his chest. His last possessions, and the only things that mattered. Would they stay with him?
Would he stay?
In quiet solemnity, his soul knew the answer. He was going. He would not stay forever. He would leave, just as his friends had. He would leave footprints behind. He would leave a scent trail. Someone else would follow that trail. And it would not lead nowhere.
A clock ticked in his room. It ticked and tocked away the time mercilessly. Why must time always press forward? Why not give him a break and stop for a moment? Maybe even run backward for a change?
He knew these answers too. Time couldn’t give anyone what they really want. At least not anything worth keeping. There were greater things that did not belong to time. Memories hinted at this. Like quiet whispers they spoke of secrets,of mysteries, of things beyond the grasp of mundane time. For memories, faint mists that they were, were the remnants of moments. Moments did not belong to time, though on the surface they seemed to. A moment could be held forever. If one tried hard enough, one could even live in a moment for a greater time than time would allow.
Like water, a memory would change when held, shifting and slipping through the cracks and crevices of weary old hands. Nevertheless, when held tightly enough, a pool could remain. The pool would ripple ever so slightly in the wind of time, but the pool would remain. And gazing upon the reflection, a man could see himself reflected in the moment. That shadowy gazing reflection would speak to him like the whisper of the moment itself,and remind him that he was just as eternal.
His grandchildren and great-grandchildren had not reflected upon this reflection like he had. They were still caught up in the winds of time. When they visited him, they fidgeted. They looked to his clock. They looked to their watches. They looked to their phones. They looked everywhere, but in the quiet recesses of their own souls and the souls of others.
No, people did not belong to time. They only placed themselves under its bondage, when they disregarded eternity. He had done this himself in times past. “Time is money” he said. And he was right. For time, like money, is just a means to an end.
He couldn’t fault his descendents. Judgment itself was just as transient as time. Love, on the other hand, was transcendent. And his love remained, even as his time had passed.
The rain stopped, and the clouds wandered away in time. The sun appeared, and the light filled his room. He closed his eyes in peace. The tears were gone, and his soul was now just as bright. The memories of a lifetime filled his mind, but they were not cold.
They were a fire that grew warmer. They burned up his soul with cleansing fire. He was crying again, but now with golden tears of a greater sun. The storm of his life was over. A final breath of joy left his frail frame.
And he was in the breath. And he was welcomed home…