The problem with time is that you don’t realize how little of it there is of it until it’s gone. We are all guilty of thinking that we have enough of it to do everything that we hope – or want – to do, without really appreciating that the clock starts ticking from the moment that we arrive screaming into the world.
Henry Rollins, ex-lead singer of Black Flag and one of my favorite spoken-word performers, has often talked about how important even individual minutes are, citing the fact that people who are unable to negotiate quickly through airports are – in many ways – robbing him of precious moments. Granted, the man spends the majority of his existence flying from one location to another and, presumably, he has got his travelling etiquette down to a fine art, but the fact is that we rarely know how much time we have.
In February of this year, my father passed away. Ten months after being diagnosed with cancer, he lost his battle and departed this mortal coil. Everybody dies, it’s an unquestionable fact. But it doesn’t make things any easier, knowing that you will never see somebody again or that you will never have the chance to talk or even laugh with them in the future.
People often have a standard response to the news that a loved one is no longer with us, most of which are intended to provide comfort. They have gone “to a better place,” or they are now looking down on us from above. Of course, these are words that have little real meaning during the grieving process, most of which is spent thinking about the hole that a person has left behind. And, once again, time becomes the issue.
“It was his/her time,” “when it’s your time,” “it’s time to let go.” In the last six months, I have heard all of these seemingly stock phrases, most of them in the days and weeks following Dad’s death. The friends and relatives that have said them mean well, but they disguise a fear of their own mortality, an acceptance that one day somebody will be applying the same sentiment to the end of their lives.
Those who take solace in religion will tell you that that person is no longer suffering, is now able to enjoy their reward in heaven and that they will be waiting for us in a venue that seems to have no overcrowding issues – despite the fact that the dead have been relocating there for hundreds of years.
Today is Dad’s birthday. He would have been 72. Every year I tried to get him something that he didn’t have – a near-impossible task that inevitably required the input of my mother and was almost always related to a book that he wanted…one of the few things that we had in common was a love of print and physical rather than virtual reading.
It goes without saying that the last few months have been tough, just one of the reasons why I haven’t been active in the blogosphere…but without him wanting to read some of my latest musings, I have found it difficult to get motivated.
However I wanted to get something up today, just to let people know that he is never out of my thoughts.
At his over-crowded memorial service in February, I read aloud my final letter to him, and it just seems appropriate that I reproduce it here, on a blog that he read and (occasionally) agreed with. If you want to know what I said on February 14, then feel free to click the button – but only if you have the time.
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