Time

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Kennedy

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

DSCN1994
(the old Methodist cemetery in “the Cove” / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains, TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Lying in the darkness at 3 AM, staring upward at a ceiling I know is there, I wonder if she is slightly smiling, amused by the odd twist in irony…me on the couch.

Yet not her couch.

Her couch is long gone, replaced by a minimalist camelback, plain jane, off-white couch too short even for my once 5’4.5″yet sadly now 5’3″ frame.

He has the heat cranked up to 76.
I can barely breathe.

How many times had she lain in this same spot, albeit on the different couch, her couch, asleep waiting on my return from another date.

How long ago was that…
42 years give or take…?
My thoughts race to the AC…
Do I dare get up and cut off his heat?
He’s so cold natured now you know…just like my grandmother was…

I don’t remember the floor creaking 40 years ago when I’d slip down the hall to turn the thermostat down on those sweltering summer nights…he didn’t believe in paying for air conditioning—now it’s just that he stays cold, even in the summer.

The owner of the camelback sofa is in the hospital.

Earlier he told me that he’s been here before—a situation of being alone…home alone with a wife in a hospital.
Silently he sits lost in his thoughts.
He’s always needed a keeper or perhaps prisoner of his own insecurities and paranoias.
But this time is different, this one will be coming home.

Hours later, I lay wrapped in the dark heat listening to sounds no longer familiar.
The house so recognizable, it should fit like a favorite sweater, yet it is now so vastly different…it no longer slips on effortlessly with comfort and ease…
as it and I are both victims of time.

Time has truly been unkind.

When I lived in this house, Time relished taunting all occupants.
There were days, months, weeks, years when it simply stopped, standing still.
As the house worked in tandem with Time to hold us all hostage.

One of us ran out of Time long before Time should have departed.
Later, another of our small number took it upon himself to cheat Time, rushing
the process by his own hand.
Still another decided he wanted to double Time
as I simply stepped out into my own Time.

As I find myself staring blankly at the ceiling lost in the night, days quickly shorten as Time has now grown terribly late.
Minds have slipped away as all bodies have followed suit.
Roles mysteriously reversed are hopelessly fought tooth and nail.
And I am oddly expendable yet desperately needed.

There are day’s I think I hear her sardonic “better you than me”
trailing off in the shadows…
I ponder the selfish reasoning as I know there are no quick or easy answers.
This is not how I would have written the ending to this story.
I would not be on this camelback sofa…
as there never would have been a camelback sofa.

Time never would have run out as quickly as it had
nor slowed to a crawl when it finally expired.
Lives would have remained intact
and I wouldn’t be staring at a ceiling that I can’t see,
lost in the dark, burning up on a strange camelback sofa at 3AM
in a house I no longer know.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

11 comments on “Time

  1. Wally Fry says:

    Amen Julie. And continued prayers for you in all that you face.

  2. Lynda says:

    This post is archetypal in its truth. Life takes twists and turns and time flies and then no longer seems to move along. The question is what we do with these twists and turns and the vagaries of time. You are putting one foot in front of the other and doing what you know you must do. May God continue to give you the strength you need – along with joy, peace and love. Prayers continue!

  3. Hi Julie, I have been caring for my elderly mom (86) for the past three years. She still lives on her own but the point has arrived where I can no longer work any kind of job, even part time, due to her needs.
    I’ve had to set some personal boundaries lately of what I will and will not do. It has made all the difference. I sought a therapist’s help for the last year and a half so I could make good judgement decisions. I hope you will take care of yourself through this. It is important.
    God Bless You.
    xo Joanne

    • Lynda says:

      Joanne, thank you for sharing your experience with Julie. This is valuable advice. Blessings to you as you continue to care for your mother and for yourself!

      • Hi Lynda and Joanne–I do so appreciate the words of support!
        I think when I first met Joanne, when we both found ourselves “retired” in order to care for our respective parents–I noted that it was hard–as there were so many components tied into the process–yet that had I nor gotten to a place with God’s Grace while having learned forgiveness—I’d be in a pickle to be sure! Had it not been for His Grace and my having learned to “forgive” Dad for so much of the past, this would have truly been in a mess.
        And whereas there are days that continue being a challenge and oh so difficult— not having any siblings to help support me either with their physical and or emotional presence, dealing with the often slippery slope of having a step parent involved, dealing with dementia on varying levels and simply not living in the same city—can be not only mentally exhaustive but physically exhausting as well—knowing when I need to step back is key.
        As I’ve gotten some sort of flu bug this week and having to be there with Dad as Gloria was in the hospital—was hard—but thankfully she is home now, Dad is better just for that one fact alone—our care service is in place doing what they need to be doing, hopefully with more cooperation from Gloria—which is now allowing me to be home for a day and not to be driving over for another day this week 🙂 In the fog and rain as that is all Georgia has turned into this Fall!
        There was even a leak yesterday in Dad’s bathroom necessitating me to call a plumber but thankfully they came out while I was there and immediately got to the problem—so little things like that are true blessings—
        Being able to write about and express some of what is going on the inside during all of this… here on the blog, is a comfort and therapeutic—and just knowing that there are plenty of others out there who are finding themselves in a similar role, with the thought that they may find some comfort here—be it just commissary or insight or rest—is truly a blessing!
        So, not to fret, I am good…just tired as one more hurdle has been jumped this week.
        Now if I could just get Dad more compliant with what the caregivers are asking of him without him acting like a two year old, we’d be golden 🙂
        Hugs to you both—
        a tuckered cookie

      • Thank you Lynda for your encouragement!

    • Hi Joanne–I responded to both you and Lynda–but I don’t think it went to you–so if you look back on the comment section—you’ll see my words to both of you—thank you for your support and encouragement—but in the end, I do know, it’s all good 🙂

  4. I see your words Julie and it is good to hear that you are keeping things in perspective. I was abit worried but you have reassured me.
    We are a generation of caretakers for our elderly parents. I sometimes wonder if I should start another small blog to simply talk about what I want to remember in my more senior years! I also wonder how we will plan for our own later eras so as not to burden our own children unnecessarily. I know this experience with my mom makes me think hard about how I can plan better for later.
    Blessings to you!
    And thank you Lynda for your encouragement as well!
    Joanne

  5. Nicodemas says:

    So very beautiful. Praying for you and your family.

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