And just like that, it happened


by Suzanne Reisler Litwin

They grew up. I grew up. We all grew up.

I think it happened slowly. Perhaps, I wasn’t paying much attention.

All I know is, just like that we all grew up.

The clear indication of this is the simple fact that the generation ahead of me is passing away. They are leaving painful voids in our lives. As they leave, I am pressed upwards in “The Cylinder of Life”.

I have a theory about life which I call “The Cylinder of Life”.

My family’s life is represented as a cylinder. This cylinder has a full opening at the top and a small side opening at the bottom. As children are born into the family, they are pushed into a small opening at the bottom of the cylinder. As the children get older, they slowly move upwards towards the top. As adults grow older, they also move up the cylinder, which pushes the older family members upwards. When a family member dies, they fall out from the top, which makes room for more growth at the bottom. However, when someone dies from within the cylinder (as an untimely passing), everyone helps them move to the top and out they go. This causes a huge shuffle and disturbance within the cylinder, as it would in life.

Basically, when we are born, we enter the cylinder at the bottom and as we age, we move up the cylinder until we drop out of it.

It seems I am getting closer to the top of my cylinder. There are only a few people ahead of me and many more people below me. Currently, I can see some light at the top of the cylinder.

This is how I know, “And just like that, it happened.”

This article should not be read from a pessimistic angle. This is my reality. I just didn’t see the growth happen. It’s an awareness, an alertness to the importance of making the most of what we’ve got going on when it’s going on.

What surprises me is the frequency of how fast it’s all happening.

The week starts on Monday and before you know it, it’s Friday. The month starts at the top and the next thing you know it’s in the middle and suddenly at the end. Once it’s summer, before long I’m buying Christmas gifts. I was just 32, 42, and 54, and now in my 55th year. And…whose old hands are typing these words? Surely, not mine. My hands don’t have veins and spots on the surface? They must be someone else’s hands I see typing this article. That’s not my reflection in the mirror of an old girl with her reading glasses on the tip of her nose. I’m the young, flirty girl with a bounce in my hair and step.

I’m at the bottom of the cylinder, right? I know I was in the middle. Seriously now, I’m creeping up towards the top with the light cracking in.  Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”  I like the way it sounds when he says it.

The other indication is how fast my children have grown up. We were just in costumes collecting Halloween treats together, picking apples, and making tents with couch cushions and blankets. They are now moving away in every different direction. Assembling our nuclear family is now logistically difficult. Everyone is so busy.

I want to put the brakes on life!

I’m not sure I’m prepared for the next chapter. It came faster than I realized.

It’s just not the kids growing up that stings, it’s everyone and everything that’s in the constant upward cylinder movement.

Hey, bus driver, I need to get off! But I don’t want to miss anything.

Someone older than me may think that I have plenty of time and I should just live my life as they are even closer to the top of the cylinder. Truly, this is all based on personal perception.  My point is not directed towards any age. This is more about how you start life from “here” and get to “there” in a flash.

My question is, “How does it happen so quickly?”

It didn’t always happen so quickly. Actually, there were times when it just crept along and then BAM, I was 30! BOOM, I was 40! BLINK, I was 50+!

At this rate, I’m afraid to BURP!

And…Just like that, it happened… ENCORE!!!

Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education.  She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West Island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.


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