Time is a funny thing. The same measure of time – let’s say, a year – can all at once feel fast and slow. If you’re a parent, think about your child’s first birthday, or in our case, the anniversary of his arrival into our home. A parent will tell you that the first year flies by, but at the same time, it’s hard to remember life before the little peanut’s arrival. Joyous events always fly by and leave us wishing for their return, while tragedies drag on, with every second feeling like a day. Sorrowful times in our lives can leave us feeling like we’ve aged far more than we truly have.
One year ago today I lost my mother to inflammatory breast cancer. Her illness was quick. She died about 7 months after her diagnosis, and most of those 7 months were not good. Her final 2+ weeks were spent in hospice, with my father, brother and I by her side nearly the entire time. Those days in hospice, just sitting there, felt almost never-ending at times. But when she passed, it felt like the blink of an eye. I felt like I hadn’t spent much time with her at all, even though I spent nearly the entire 2 weeks in her room, away from my husband and son, and barely sleeping. Thinking back on that time, it seems like yesterday and an eternity ago, all at the same time. I can remember certain smells and sounds, yet sometimes I can’t remember her voice.
Tomorrow we celebrate Little Dude’s 4th birthday. His adoption process was fraught with issues, and it felt like it took 6 years, not 18 months. Days positively dragged on. At one point, we were told that they believed he was dead. The week that we lived in the dark about his condition felt like a year. But once he came home, time began to fly. I told some girlfriends on Friday night that his birthday was approaching and they said, “Didn’t we just do that?” It seems like his 3rd birthday party was a month ago, not a year ago, yet it was one day after Mom’s death.
It’s tough to have two milestones – one happy and one sad – so close together. It’s hard to make Little Dude’s birthday cake today to have at our Super Bowl/birthday party while at the same time mourning the anniversary of my mother’s death. But that’s the way things are, and we have to deal with it. My son won’t remember much of his Moogie as he grows up, but he’ll be forever tied to her – his angel – by the timing of her passing.
Mom loved the writings of Kahlil Gibran. I’ve been wanting to read the books I took from her bedside table, but haven’t. I’m not sure why, but I haven’t. I’ll share a few verses from The Prophet, though, that I found this morning that seem especially appropriate for today.
“Let not the waves of the sea separate us now, and the years you have spent in our midst become a memory.
You have walked among us a spirit, and your shadow has been a light upon our faces.
Much have we loved you. But speechless was our love, and with veils has it been veiled. Yet now it cries aloud unto you, and would stand revealed before you.
And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
And . . .
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
And finally . . .
“You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”