Friday, October 28, 2011

Time – Part 1

While Dad was sick, he was often preoccupied with the concept of time.  He frequently asked what time it was, which was very odd because, pre-tumor, he was one of those people with a hard-wired sense of time, so innate that he could wake up in the middle of the night and know exactly what time it was without looking at a clock.  He also had a flawless sense of direction, which came in very handy on his thousands of long runs and bike rides.

His illness took both of those away from him from the very first day, though.  The directional awareness wasn’t as much of a problem; he was pretty much confined to the hospital or to the house while he was sick, so getting lost wasn’t really a risk.  He was aware of his confusion about the concept of time, though, and it disturbed and frustrated him greatly on a daily basis during that time.

From the day that Dad was diagnosed and continuing to the present day, I've felt like there is a ticking time bomb following me around.  I constantly feel like somehow, somewhere, time is running out, and I'm hyper-focused on the fact that there just isn’t enough time.  Obviously, that started when we were told that Dad’s time was limited.  The sand was flowing way too quickly through the hourglass, and then Dad started revising his Bucket List, which further drove the point home.  Of course I know that no one is guaranteed anything in life, certainly (and painfully obviously) not time, even when a person has done all the things that would seem to be a shoe-in for ensuring longevity.  But it's still an anxiety-provoking issue, and it certainly was for Dad and for my family following the diagnosis.

When I think about the concept of time and whether or not someone can ever have enough, it reminds me of the way that when my children were little
they always said “too much” whenever they were asked how much of something they wanted.  After hearing them reference a quantity in that way a few times, I realized that it was because when they got a drink, a snack, books, or toys for themselves, I would usually say “Don’t get too much!”  (i.e. Don't spill the food/drink or don't get too many things out because that'll be more to clean up later.)  They used the term "too much" to mean “more" at that age, and that’s what we wanted in terms of time with Dad. 

As I began writing this, I was thinking, as I have so often, about how I don’t think there was enough time for Dad, and then a thought popped into my head:  maybe it was those of us left behind who didn’t have enough time with him.   Maybe his benchmarks were met, if his interpretation of enough wasn’t related to time but to quality and to things like loving and being loved, feeling like one has made an impact, and being able to look back and say, “What a great life!” 

In this video clip from the movie The Bucket List, Morgan Freeman’s character Carter tells Jack Nicholson’s character Edward that the Ancient Egyptians believed that, when a soul got to the entrance of heaven, two questions were asked, the answers to which determined whether the soul was admitted or not.  Without a doubt, Dad could’ve answered YES to both, and in that way he did have enough time - enough to find joy for himself and to bring it to others, both many times over.

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