This article is re-posted with permission. We thank Gabrielle Elise Jimenez, hospice nurse, end-of-life doula, and conscious dying educator, for sharing her experiences at thehospiceheart.net blog.
How much time do we have? Where did the time go? I wish we could go back in time. Remember that time? Time is on my side… time is not on my side. One more time… I wish I had one more time. Time waits for no one. Time flies. Wasted time. Time well spent. Time is money. Precious time. The trouble is, that we think we have time.
“All we have to decide, is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Have you ever sat and thought about all the things we say or have heard, relative to the time we have, the time we’ve lost, how we have spent our time and how much more is left? We do not realize how much time has been wasted, until our time left is limited. And those who are sitting at the bedside of someone whose time is short, is reminded of this in a very big way.
I recently spent some time with a widow who has been trying to clean out her husband’s belongings. Her husband had many interests and left behind a lot of things for her to go through, which in quite honesty has taken its toll. Following in his parent’s footsteps, he worked on clocks and watches and has an entire room filled with parts and tools. This was more of a hobby for him, but one he enjoyed and spent a lot of time on. The room itself is very cool, I have enjoyed my time in there as well.
Our conversation about him and the hundreds of pieces of clock supplies got us talking about time; how we spend it, how we manage it, how quickly is passes, and how precious it is. As I started to write this blog, which was inspired by our conversation, I asked her to put together some of the clock/watch tools and supplies and take a photo for me, which she graciously said she would do. This project became quite therapeutic for her. She said, “it turned my thoughts from feeling like he left me with all this stuff to deal with, to he left me with all this stuff to play with, and I am blessed with the time to explore and heal.”
Time can be our friend when we have the luxury of time. We are able to do things with less rush or urgency and put it off for later, not feeling the need to push to finish the things we have counted on having time for. And then something unexpected happens and time has been taken from us… all that time we counted on and took for granted is now gone. We do not get that back, and I know many of you can appreciate this.
What I hear often is, “I thought we would have more time,” in which I think to myself… don’t we all? In those last few hours, as I witness people at the bedside saying their goodbyes, I watch as they quickly say the years-worth of things they’ve held on to, always thinking they would have time to say them later. I imagine them all thinking, “how did it get to be “too late” so soon?”
There is a quote by Lao Tzu, “To say, ‘I don’t have time’, is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” Think about that for a moment, allow that to really sink in. If there is someone out there, right now that is wishing to hear things from you, and you do have the chance and you do have the time to say them… imagine the comfort you would bring to their life, removing that feeling of, “they just don’t want to.”
If I could go back in time there are so many people that I wish I could say things to, but that isn’t realistic, and I am not going to beat myself up about that. But I can change things moving forward, and so can you. Say the things now, while you truly do have time. Assume you only have a window of time… take advantage of that window.