THE INVISIBLE HOURGLASS
Yesterday marked one month since Mitchell passed away and three realities have become very clear: 1) grief is bewildering 2) there are no shortcuts for grieving the loss of a child, 3) it is the hardest work one will ever do in this life. I think it’s also safe to say, no matter how hard the road has been till now, the easy stuff is behind us. It would seem that what lies ahead is more difficult still.
In our home are the remaining flowers from Mitchell’s funeral. The fading beauty of each arrangement stands as a reminder that life is temporary and time waits for no one. While we cling to the flowers as a symbol of all that we loved and lost, they stare back at us unapologetically withering away. Looking back I can see that the days and hours we had with Mitch were more precious and few than even I had anticipated. As much as we would like turn time back and savor those fleeting moments we had with our boy, we cannot. And wishing won’t make it so.
When we took Mitchell home from the hospital we were given invisible hourglass. Doctors couldn't tell us exactly how much time we had, they just said "soon … very soon." With that we rushed out the door terrified of the unknown and did all in our power to love our boy and make his final days happy and full of love. Every day was a blessing, for we had our boy a little longer. Every day was a burden because we saw him slowly die.
A few days prior to his passing, Mitchell started to sleep more. His organs were shutting down and sleep was his body’s only way of preserving energy to survive. Throughout the day and into the night he would periodically wake and ask what time it was. Mitch became increasingly sad and frustrated when he realized that the days were slipping through his fingers and he was not able to enjoy the time he had. This broke our hearts and we would have done anything to trade places with him.
I remember as a young student one of my professors placed a saying above the clock on the wall that read: “The time will pass … will you?” It was a humbling reminder to me that no matter my preoccupation with getting through a grueling test, lecture or enduring some hard experience, time was on a fixed course and the only thing I had control over was me. I used to think to myself “if I can just get through this thing …. then all will be well” … as if simply gritting my teeth and waiting out some hardship were enough. I learned later in life that enduring difficulty isn’t as important as enduring it well.
A month ago my son’s hourglass has shattered to the earth and the sands have since blown away. Like never before I have become keenly aware that I have hovering over me an invisible hourglass of my own and I intend to make the most of whatever sands remain.