The following is an excerpt from my memoir. I still often think about “that time” when my mother was dying from metastatic breast cancer. The memory is part of what drives me to continue advocating. Time is an elusive thing, and yet, time is everything.
I’m standing on a bridge now. This bridge is a link between my life as a daughter who has a mother and my new life that lies ahead – the life in which I will be motherless. I don’t want to be on this bridge. I am not ready. I want to get off, but I cannot.
Time is now a most elusive thing.
I want more of it and gratefully welcome each hour and day that arrives, uncertain of how many are left for me to spend as a daughter who has a mother. Every new day is a blessing, yet every new day also brings us closer to the end.
On the one hand, time passes slowly, minutes silently blending into hours, as we sit and wait for the outcome we do not want to see unfold. On the other hand, I feel powerless, unable to slow time’s momentum as each day too quickly slides into the next. I want time to slow down or perhaps even to stop altogether.
I find myself wondering what happens to time that “leaves us.”
Regardless, time is running out and staying away is becoming impossible for me. There is nowhere else I want to be. My days and most nights are spent here at the nursing home. It is becoming a familiar place now, not quite so harsh and cold. In two short weeks we have come to know many of the staff members quite well.
Has it really only been two weeks since we checked into this place?
Has enough time already passed for us to feel “settled in”?
Time no longer matters.
In fact, there is no sense of time now and what good does it do to keep track of time anyway?
“Your mother must have been a good mom because she is never alone. Most patients are not that lucky,” a smiling nurse’s aide wearing a blue uniform with tiny pink flowers printed all over it tells me when she sees me walking down the hallway to my mother’s room.
I am recognized in this place now, after just two weeks. I am seen as someone who belongs here. I ponder the sadness of the aide’s statement, but only for a moment.
There is no time for pondering about others, not today.
I drift along as if in slow motion. I sit by my mother’s bedside and wait for time to pass. Mostly I am waiting for time to decide how long I will be allowed to stay on this bridge. I try to look back at my old life before the bridge, but it is becoming more distant and foggy. I want to go back to that life, but I know I cannot.
Looking ahead to the other side feels impossible.
I want more time. I need more time. I bargain with God for more of it. I need more, just one more day.
Time matters after all.
Time is everything.
Have you ever wanted to slow down or speed up time?
Have you ever wondered what happens to time that “leaves us”?
Do you look at time differently following your (or a loved one’s) cancer diagnosis?