Sitting at the kitchen table the other night I absently look up at the clock over the pantry door. It’s 7:47 and I’m having my dinner. Nothing unusual. Remembering I have an atomic clock (ironically I think) which self-adjusts during daylight savings times I turn to look over my shoulder wondering if I had bothered to change the manual clock I just looked at. For a confused moment I see the time 8:47 thinking I am eating awfully late. Then the clarity of the situation hit, I was quite literally in the time between now and then, or before and after.
Spreading another piece of my bread with some olive/artichoke tapinade I picked up at Sunday’s Farmer’s Market I was acutely aware of how (on this particular morning) I defrosted the bread with the full intention of having it tonight along with said tapinade. Alone.
If we are fortunate we won’t have to die alone. I thought of a particular video of some Japanese people running just a few seconds ahead of the tsunami when they all just stopped. My heart quickened and I remembered yelling something like, “KEEP RUNNING” foolishly thinking they could have heard me. Apparently they stopped to pick up someone with them who...fell, was disabled, gave up?? I don’t know, but they were not going to leave the person behind. I cried when they picked up and carried him/her away.
Soon my mind drifted off to the days when my husband was alive and in a wheelchair. I know without a doubt I would have been the one behind pushing him away from danger. I know also we would have been overtaken by the tsunami together. I would have been okay with that scenario. It is being all alone at the end which is frightening to me.
I now understand why you have a last meal, or even a last cigarette. It is because it gives you some finite time to come to grips with whatever things are set in motion. Perhaps in those several moments just before the something good is coming, or more likely, the something bad on your short horizon you will have sorted out in your heart and mind what is coming. You have time to come to grips with it good or bad. You have time to make peace with it.
Defining your moments is a wise and good idea. The grace with which you do so is also important. This has never been clearer to me than now, knowing what the Japanese people (actually all people who are living there) are facing halfway around the world. We should all have such clarity, such acceptance.
I will not adjust my manual clock, keeping it in the past just may keep me grounded even as I move ahead. Remembering and accepting, come what may.