Time

(Dictated by Dru to Art)

 

I remember a song from the Eighth Grade Music Book: “Over the river and through the woods/ To grandmother’s house we go/ The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh….”

 

Yesterday– Sunday– wasn’t quite like that. No snow or horse or sleigh, and what passed for woods were acres of desiccated chaparral north of San Diego. We were in the midst of a hellish heat wave, over a week of century-plus record temperatures, and no relief in sight. In town the Chargers were beginning to lay waste to the Seahawks and the temp on the field was around one-hundred-eighteen degrees.

 

A few weeks earlier I’d told my family I wanted to celebrate my birthday with them in Murrieta at the home of our younger son Matt, his wife Nikki, and his three kids (aged 8, 7, and 5.) My elder son Rocky would be there too. They’d prepared a feast to celebrate my 74th birthday. That day, however, I didn’t feel much to cheer about, especially thinking it would probably be my last birthday.

 

Physically I was going through a rough patch. It was the third day after my third chemo session. Those days are always stressful, and among other things this one was giving me a massive cramp in my calf, one I couldn’t release.

 

Around midday, just before we were supposed to leave for Matt and Nikki’s house, I told Art I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anything except loll on our couch and bitch about the heat. But as my number of days grows shorter, I’m more and more aware of how few I have left. So I climbed in the car with my sister Margaret and Art headed us north toward Murrieta eighty miles away.

 

The Murrieta Campbells had prepared a feast. Matt served his fabulous fried chicken with crispy fries. Sweetheart Nik made the scrumptious lemon soufflé I had earnestly requested. On the big screen we watched the underdog Chargers trounce last year’s Super Bowl champions, cheering them on with each triumphant play.

 

Then, as the day drew down, I snuggled a bit with my beloved grandchildren and the love spilled out around us. I used indirect and tentative language about what lies ahead: “Yes, Nana is very sick, and she might not get better.”

 

For me the sadness, the poignancy, of doing things for the last time is always hard. Although Art with his Zen perspective gently reminds me that everything we do is for the last time, sometimes this thought overwhelms me; it seems to slice me in two, and there’s no way to stop the bleeding.

 

Driving home later, I sat in the back seat, listening to Art and Margaret talking quietly in the front seat as I pretended to sleep. I thought how they will continue to have these talks without me, when I am gone.

 

Time. It’s the treasure and gold of life. Why did it take me so long to see its value? Not realizing this, how did I manage to spend so many dollars and cents of my life before today? I know, I know: I spent it, I wasted it, I frittered it away.

 

And “without me,” “when I’m gone.” What do those words mean? Okay, so the answers to these questions are a cliché. I cop to that. And Art reminds me that you can never really save time, only spend it. Probably at the end of life— for people lucky enough to be able to contemplate death instead of greeting it with a crash on the freeway– everyone feels as I do: “Ahah, each moment of life is precious!” But cliché or not, it needs to be said. It needs to be repeated again and again from childhood down through the years.

 

Time. Life gives each of us a finite number of days, like grains of sand placed in our palms. That’s called “birth.” And when those grains run out, it’s called “death.” But, contrary to our culture’s feverish denial, death is an inevitable and absolutely natural part of life. And at the end, when our grains have run out, there are no “extensions on credit.”

 

For me this is a sobering truth, and it’s come as a sudden, shocking one. But at the very least it’s redoubled my vow to be aware— and really LIVE— each moment I have left.

Filed under Family & Friends, Life Matters | Tags: , , ,


9 Responses to “Time”

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  1. Allan Buck says:

    Drucilla,
    By your side you have walked through life with a wondrous spiritual man. He is your rock as you are his rock.
    Take it from one who personally knows, there is no such thing as death. We are merely transformed from the physical to the spiritual body. We are always ‘alive’. Time is what we humans created in order to have order in our lives. Time does not exist. The odd thing about Creation is that it has the right and the ability to change our paths. To live life one must have the nature to grin like the Cheshire Cat and just chuckle at the experiences which come our way. Believe me, I know it is sometimes a most difficult thing to do, but you can. Let Art be your guiding light and your rock. Peace of the heart I send to you.
    Allan

  2. Barbara Howard says:

    Dru, first of all I can’t believe you’re 74. More importantly, your words bring me to tears. Following your posts, walking beside you (from 3000 miles away)I am struck by your openness and honesty in sharing these deepest thoughts. I will never forget our drive from Julian to Coronado nearly 30 years ago, your experience, strength, and hope; your incredible kindness and generosity. Thank you for all of it. And thanks for sharing your walk. It’s helps as I grieve my mother’s death and take care of my 90 year old dad. Facing and sharing these thoughts,I have, discovered, has taken much of the fear away and allowed me to be completely present for my loved ones. God Bless You and Art.

  3. Jessica North says:

    no words to match your mighty spirit, sweetest soul, except profound love to you and yours.

  4. Ellen Siemens says:

    I Am Blessed To Have Ever Seen Your Beautiful, Peace-Filled Face And Read Your Words. In the Fellowship Of The Spirit Always, Ellen Siemens

  5. Roger Butler says:

    Maybe it is just my own peculiar perception, but, I have never been able to imagine a time before I existed or after I am gone. Therefore, only that which I have experienced through reading or hearing about the past has ever happened and, for the future, you who remain are on your own.
    Crazy, Egocentric, Weird or not worth thinking about? Somehow it works for me.

  6. Oh Dru,
    To find that you are only two years older than I am makes me sad. In fact, your tender words make me want to cry, and yet, I am happy to see you baring your soul with each of us. I will remember you always.

  7. Lisa Wood says:

    Thank you for your beautiful words and profound insights. How cruel time is. I think of beautiful lives that have blinked out already and it makes me so very sad. I am not very zen about the loss of beauty. I want to hold beautiful things forever. Acceptance that one cannot do so is slow coming.

    I hope your book signing last weekend went well. I do not have a copy yet, but will be getting one shortly.

  8. Bill says:

    Hi again Dru. Wow – time, death and Chargers football! Great wisdom; great imagery. Of course, American football is played against the clock, and if “time” runs out and neither team has the lead, the game goes into sudden “death” overtime. Time, death, and football – also made me think of the following:

    Time. On this one, Dru, you echoed the wisdom of the ancients. In Psalm 39 vs. 4 & 5 – written nearly 2500 years ago – the author prays to his Maker: “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but a vapor.” Then Psalm 90 vs. 9-11: “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow. For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

    Death. Bulls-eye again, Dru. Back in 1973-1975, I was in college and had a few hours in my schedule to kill (pun intended), so I signed up for “University Chorus.” Two or three times a week we rehearsed Handel’s “Messiah.” Back then, I had no idea what I was singing; they were just words some guy had put to orchestral music. But one portion stuck in my head through the years (strange how we remember lyrics when they’re attached to a tune); it went “since by man came death . . . for as in Adam all die . . . .” It’d be well over a decade before that I learned I was singing – and had memorized – an excerpt from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, vs. 21-22. Just like Paul, you nailed it, Dru. Everybody dies. But Paul gives the reason – “since BY MAN came death/for as IN ADAM all die” – to wit: we INherited death (just like hair or eye color, height, etc.) from our parents, who INherited death from their’s, who INherited it from their’s, and on back to the beginning. Bummer – but wait; here’s what Paul wrote in its entirety: “Since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The solution to “death by inheritance” is “resurrection life by inheritance” also known as “everlasting life.” I.e., just put a non-human Parent in your ancestry and presto: you inherit everlasting, resurrection life. “As many as received Him [Jesus of Nazareth], to them gave He the right/the power [the “metagenetics” if you will] to become children of God, to those who merely believe in His name.” John ch. 1 vs. 12. So, when God is our Parent, we get by nature what He’s got: everlasting life. It’s very cool, and it’s free for the receiving – we don’t even have to ask for it – it’s already gift-wrapped with our name on it! Just take it, Dru!

    Football. Again, Dru, nice job: you were rooting for the winning team. The Chargers beat the Seahawks back (now) two Sundays ago. And I’ll bet you haven’t worried about or feared the outcome of that game since it ended, have you? Me neither. Because it’s behind us, in the past, forever, in the same place where Jesus puts death for all who merely bank on Him. John ch. 5 vs. 24: “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him Who sent Me, has EVERLASTING life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” This truth, locked down by Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, made Paul sing and actually taunt death: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death: where is your sting? Oh grave: where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:34-35. It’s the victory song of the victor over the vanquished! Chargers over the Seahawks; Jesus over death on our behalf! Game over, death and Seahawks!

  9. Debbie says:

    Dru – I only met you for a few short hours with Tom, but your loving energy and courage touches me and will be with me always. I am so happy to know you.

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