Saturday, April 7, 2018

Waking Up to Time

Isn't is strange that our lived experience has never happened outside of time, and we can still be surprised by it?   We wake up to alarm clocks every day, and yet an instant awareness of time can jump out of nowhere and shock us to the point of tears.

An example...

This morning, my middle boy, properly sleepy-eyed on a Saturday morning, crawled onto the futon with me, where I was reading, and sipping coffee.

I was so thoroughly enjoying it, my heart bubbled over into my mouth and it said, "Walker, never move out, okay?  You should live here forever..."

Now, he's only 12, but he has had an unswerving conviction about joining the Marines for as long as I can remember.  A few months ago, we were cleaning his room and he handed me something.  "Here, you're going to need this."  It was a Proud Parent of a Marine sticker.

USMC Proud Parent of a U.S. Marine Crome Decal Marine Corps Sticker Decal EGA

Anyway,  this morning I told him that instead of joining the Marines, maybe he could write letters to the soldiers to encourage them, and work at HEB, the local grocery store.  He looked at me with pity.

So, I pressed.  So, are you going to go to college before you join the Marines, so you can go in as an officer?  He shook his head.  "I don't want to be in a position where I  have to send people into a situation where they might get killed."  Well, if you're not going to be an officer, what are you going to be?  "Infantry."  Yeah, but you will either be sending people, or be sent.  "I'd rather be sent."

Gulp.  Without my permission, my brain subtracted the 18-year age requirement (without parental consent to enter at 17) from his 12 years and I said "That means we only have you for six more years!"

He smiled.  "I only have to wait six more years.  Six more birthdays, six more Christmases, six more Easters,  six more Mother's Days..."  Stop, I told him, with tears streaming down my face.  He rattled off a few more examples and got a little misty-eyed himself.  I called him on it, but, as a future Marine would be inclined, he denied it.  "It's just that I'm tired and the light is in my eyes."  Whatever, dude.

He got up and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."

This is something I understand and will support, even if my heart is breaking from sorrow and bursting with pride at the same time.  Sheesh, makes me cry even writing that.

Zooming out from my living room to others, I'm reminded why I love working in hospice.  People live with an awareness of time.  Sure, there are more tears.  But, there is more laughter, too.  There is often less of what they want, but, in most cases, there is more of what they need.  And that is love - whether you are inching through life or hastening toward death.

I don't know about you, but trying to love someone whose days are more obviously numbered (for ALL of our days are numbered), feels like a high-stakes venture...

Did I say too much or too little?  Stay too long or not long enough? Should I send that reflection that made me think of them?  Or a text to say, "I'm praying"?

God only knows.  My own rule is to pray and to follow the inspirations I have.  And, perseverate afterward.  Sorry, that's the best advice I have, if you're looking for some.

Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts and minds as how best to love those with little time.  And thank you for little conversations and tears to help us appreciate what is, for as long as it lasts.  Amen. 

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