Time is a funny notion, a man-made constraint. It’s like an imaginary concept invented solely by humans in our quest to control basically everything. Honestly I don’t love it, because in my opinion, time is a liar.
It was exactly three months and one week ago today that my Dad hit the high road, never to be seen in this earthly realm again. But that’s all wrong, because I just spoke with him a couple of days ago, saw his face yesterday afternoon and heard his laughter earlier this morning. But that can’t be right, because I haven’t heard his voice or watched that striking smile spread across his face in a thousand years.
Time is a liar.
I want my Dad here on earth. I want to call him up and ask him stuff. I want to tell him about our progress at the homestead, about all of the new bantam chicks that hatched this summer. I want to fry a turkey with him and watch him get freaked out when the grandkids get too close to the hot oil. I want to watch my Hunk and bro-in-laws poke fun at him over the dinner table and I want to hear him explain to them why they’re wrong about basically everything they think they know. I want to argue with him about all of the reasons Fox News is not really news and I want to force him to listen to NPR when we’re in the car together. I want to feed him homemade things dripping with cheese (because he loved cheese with everything) and I want to bake him a pie and then feel guilty and pressure him to take better care of himself and eat less sugar. I want to laugh together about funny things we did during my childhood, like the time he jerked my loose tooth out of my head so fast that it flew up and hit the ceiling. It took me a whole 60 seconds to even realize my tooth was gone and then of course, once I felt that soft, squishy space where my tooth used to live, I fell apart into a puddle of tears, traumatized for life. I want to thank him again and again and again… For everything. For all of it.
It seems sad, doesn’t it? To think on all of that stuff? To know that it has already happened, to know that we can’t go back and do it all again? Well, I’ve realized that although it seems sad, it’s really not. It’s painful. Yes. Deeply painful. The sting of knowing it’s all done, that emotional piece of this experience is absolutely relentless. But I don’t think of it as being sad. At least not anymore.
I knew that man and he knew me. We took advantage of the present moment every single time we were together. Sure, we reminisced about the past. But when we were all together as a family, we lived for that very second. All of the chaos, the joy, the irritation, the boredom, the hardships, the fun. We embraced it. All of it. Every ounce. Dad didn’t sit around bitching at me about all of the hell I raised as a teenager. He let it go. He didn’t push me to evolve into anything other than the woman I became. Even though I was way different from him in many ways, he was good with me just being me. Dad loved me and my sisters for who we were in the present moment, all of the time, every time, unconditionally. That’s not sad, folks.
That’s magnificent. How lucky are we?
Time keeps life’s happenings in one of two places – the past or the future. We’re always reflecting on time wasted or time gone by too quickly. We’re always fixating on how we’ll spend our time tomorrow, next week or even next year. All too often the keeping of time negates the significance of the present moment. When we negate the significance of the present moment, we rob ourselves of healing and growing from our experiences in the past and we hold ourselves hostage by fixating on our plans for the future. It’s unfortunate. The present moment is all we’re really promised in this life anyway. Why treat it as though it’s expendable or insignificant? Essentially, it’s all we’ve got.
Live in the here and in the now. Openly, gratefully welcome whatever swarm of emotions you’re sitting with. Pull them into the moment and live through it. Breathe in the peace of the present, breathe out the pain of the past and free yourself from the fears of the future.
Settle in this moment. Even if this moment hurts. Even if this moment is uncomfortable.
The subtle shifts in the pressure and the pain I’m feeling, the beauty and the balance I’m embracing will ultimately shape my view of the past and pave my pathway into the future. It’s the right way to live. This small act of embracing the here and the now has helped me let go of the sadness that washed over me the morning Dad slipped away. It has given me hope that somehow, someway the pain I sit with today will eventually evolve into something else too. Though for now, the pain is mine to hang out with, to feel, to accept.
Maybe there will ever come a time when I won’t utilize the 10th of every month as a reminder to reflect on exactly how many days have passed since Dad chose peace and headed on his merry way. Maybe that’s when the pain will dissipate. But, somehow I doubt it.
After all, time is a liar.