Back in Time

Wishing I Could Visit the Past

Aabye-Gayle F.
4 min readApr 4


An old and a new photograph album opened to reveal photos inside with more photos surrounding them.
Transferring photos from an old album into a new one has made me even more nostalgic.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time — jump on a plane and visit the past like I visit Grenada or Paris. It’s not so much that I have regrets. I just want to be better immersed in my own network of history. There are so many moments I would have paid closer attention to so as not to forget. Most are simple moments I’d savor more if I had a second chance.

I wish the present could borrow people from the past. Having lost someone I love (my mother), time is both a gift and a thief. I am grateful for every moment I have lived and all that life has given. I am thankful for all the time I’ve spent with those I love. Every second shared with family is a gift to me.

But time has also taken things. It has stolen family members and memories and put an ever-widening chasm between then and now. I cannot return. I can’t live in the past. I can only try to remember. But sometimes I wish I could really go back.

The past few years have been teeming with nostalgia for me. It’s now been more than 21 years since my mother passed away, and the loss has felt heavier than usual lately. In part, it’s because I’ve seen loved ones endure losses that reflected and so reinvigorated my own. I’ve also seen the dearth of support and wisdom my mom was uniquely equipped to offer — able to occupy a space in my family that no one else can fill — even the most well-meaning.

I’m approaching the age my mother was when she died. The night I spent in the hospital in February, most of my thoughts were on matters of mortality. Once my friends left, my insomnia and I ruminated. I had a private hospital room with nothing but a heart condition and an overactive mind to keep me company. I thought about what it will mean (and how it might feel) if and when I grow older than she did — what it will mean (and how it will feel) if I live to see the age at which she died.

Adding to my nostalgia is a personal project. A few days ago, I started transferring old photos from an age-battered album into a new one.

So, for all the above reasons and more, I have felt my mother’s absence like a massive entity — it has great dimensions and weight.

I am acutely aware of the deficit my mother’s death has left in the world. My…