As a kid, time seemed infinite.
We were always waiting for it to pass. To get a little bit taller so we could reach the bathroom faucet on our own. To get a few months older so we could stay up for I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite. To have a driver’s license. Stay out past midnight. Graduate. Get married. Start that family.
But now that we’re adults circling 40, we know the sobering truth: time is a double-edged thief.
Worse, that certainty we used to have that what constantly, predictably, comfortably was would, of course, always be is an impossible dream.
Maybe it’s the curse of a generation that’s never quite seemed to fit neatly into any cultural boxes.
Too young to be Baby Boomers, too old to be Millenials, those of us who grew up in the ‘80s and early ‘90s have spent a lifetime carving out our own identity in a world that keeps trying to define us.
We’re the generation that went to elementary school when “computer” was a class we relished twice a week because it meant floppy disks of Oregon Trail and Number Munchers. We ate rectangle pizza from BPA-laced cafeteria trays, talked to our friends and prank-called crushes on see-through telephone receivers across landlines, and came of age alongside boy bands and sitcom characters.
Characters like Corey Matthews on Boy Meets World.
DJ Tanner on Full House.
Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski on Saved By the Bell.
They were staples of our formative years, as familiar to us after school and on Friday nights as the angst we painted across our adolescent and teenage years.
We could always count on Mr. Feeney to impart some lasting nugget of truth. We knew Danny Tanner would come through with an emotional embrace and some fatherly wisdom 24-minutes in to the half-hour. There was no question Screech would be there to make us laugh.
As silly as it sounds, those certainties were comforts to a generation fumbling to find its footing in a rapidly advancing world.
Maybe it’s why now, decades and careers and life experiences later, we’re hit so hard by news like the passing of Bob Saget at just 65 years old.
It forces us to face that elephant in the room, the one we’ve spent a lifetime carefully bubble wrapping in our nostalgia: the people we love and the experiences that built us don’t remain forever—and neither do we.
That truth will just never not sting.
Older generations are probably shaking their heads at us as we flood social media with our slightly outsized reactions to the death of another piece of our childhood. They’ve already been there, you see, older and wiser and more accustomed to reality’s unrelenting, unsympathetic pace.
Younger generations are probably rolling their eyes at us waxing poetic over losing another someone we didn’t actually know. They’re subconsciously swallowing their own fears, the ones still a decade or more away from forcing their way to the surface. They were us not so long ago.
But for this generation in the middle of parenting, the middle of marriage, the middle of life itself, actors like Bob Saget embody more than just pop culture. They’re part of our coming of age, of the tightly-guarded innocence we still secretly covet—and losing them flakes off pieces of our youth we weren’t quite ready to shed.
It forces us to look time in the eye and admit it’s not the infinite nuisance we once took for granted. It’s a gift we don’t deserve.
We didn’t really understand it, then. We wish we hadn’t brushed it off so easily, now.
So if you find yourself wondering this week why the thirty- and fortysomethings you know seem a little somber, maybe even a tad overdramatic—we hope you can remember your own childhood and understand.
We’re still growing up, you see, and this part? It hurts.