In moments like these, there are a million moments I wish I would have held onto; spent carefully. I wish I had used time more wisely to make memories, instead of allowing the memories to make me. I wish, I wish….
Time is a fickle friend or so they say; often escaping our grasp and sometimes, our hearts. It can burden you, as easily as it can free you. One blink, as the eyelash flitters lightly on your cheek, can change everything. One small breath, one exhale, can turn your world upside down in unimaginable ways. You cannot conceive of such a day and nothing can prepare you for what life has up its proverbial sleeve.
I was 33 when it happened. There were many instances during my childhood where others thought it might, yet somehow back then I knew it was not true. The day I received the phone call, my heart skipped a few beats as the blood rushed to my head. Momentarily, I stopped breathing, until my internal will forced me into action. I hung up and immediately dialed my childhood phone number. The phone rang…and rang until she finally answered. I knew by the sound of her voice as she told me she just needed to lie down for awhile, that something was terribly wrong. I asked her to put dad on the phone and after what seemed like an eternity, he answered. I made him promise not to let her lie down, under no circumstance was he to let her. He tried to argue, insisting she just needed to rest, but I firmly insisted he not let her and I told him to call for an ambulance. I said I would see them both soon and hung up the phone. Not trusting an ambulance to be called, I dialed the phone number to her doctor’s office and explained they needed to send one for her right away.
I bought her some time, yet I knew it was just that…..time. It was enough for family to be notified and for those who could afford to, to visit one last time. I am not sure how to express how it feels to know deep in your body, in your heart that you are about to loose someone you love. Somehow, I knew beyond any possible doubt the last five days I spent with her would be the last I would ever spend. I held her hand, I read to her some nonsense book so she could hear my voice. She could not speak, because of the breathing machine. I hoped my presence would be enough and yet feared it was not. There was so much I wanted to say, yet I could not find the words. I missed the most important opportunity of my life. Time slipped away, too fast, too soon. I could not hold onto it and I could not stay. I was not there when she passed away.
I wish I would have told her how much she meant to me. How she helped make me the woman I am today. How brave and strong I thought she was. How I believed she deserved so much more than life gave her. I wish I would have been there for her last breath, for the last time her eyelashes brushed her cheeks.
I tell you this, not to make you sad. No indeed, although it breaks my heart to share this story. I tell you, in hopes that you will not make the same mistakes. Cherish the loved ones in your life, even when you do not agree with how they choose to live theirs. Spend time making memories, not arguments. Know how fleeting life can be and that in the end, all of those things you thought mattered at the time (standing your ground, winning an argument…..your differences……) are so very small and at such time they appear….. undoubtedly insignificant.
Do not run away when the time draws near. Do not shirk the responsibility of taking care of them, when they can no longer care for themselves. Be kind, be gentle, be loving and spend every precious moment you have in their presence. Take the time to tell them how you truly feel and forgive any indiscretions between you. That time together will be priceless, when all you have left to hold onto……
In loving memory of: Gloria (2008) & Robert (2009)