Edited on 8/2 for clickability.
It has been an interesting week, that is an understatement.
When you bury a family member you find out all sorts of interesting things about yourself and the people surrounding you.
Some you already know.
Others you think you do.
And still more surprise you.
Lets just say that I have a lot to think about now, and those thoughts parallel much of what is currently in the news…in very interesting ways…
For now…I’ll leave it at that.
Many years ago I was in a car with my uncle and aunt, my uncle has this way of awkwardly pressing down and letting up on the gas and it was silently annoying everyone in the car. Atypical of Black families in the 80’s, we were on our way north to go skiing. My uncle, a corporate lawyer for an insurance company, made decent money but always lived modestly. His skis were used, as were the poles and all the other accoutrements, not because he was afraid of making an investment in something that he may or may not be sticking with but simply because he was thrifty.
The not so gentle rocking of the accelerator notwithstanding, it was exciting to be going and doing this thing that even some of my more solidly middle class white friends had yet to do. It was a small coup to have an accomplished member of the family, who spoke eloquently about politics and culture be my entre into this very white world.
And then there was my aunt. We had a history of getting along and then not, of sparring over petty things and being able to have many of the same conversations in the same animated and intelligent fashion. Auntie was an enigma in many ways. A hypochondriacally, mercurial woman who in many ways always felt like she needed to play a perpetual game of catch up with the world. She’s both infuriating and gentle, poised and clumsy and sometimes all of the above. She is also dying.
As suddenly as some things seem to come on, this one truly seemed sudden.
Other family members were with her as she went in for her initial surgery, an unrelated thyroid procedure, and said she’d been so happy and full of life afterwards even with the cancer diagnosis. That was short lived.
I visited her last night after my mother called me and said she wasn’t doing well. I found her lying on her side almost motionless and only able to respond by opening her eyes slightly and making short barely distinguishable vocalizations. My son and I sat with her for a few minutes, trying to say what we could, the last few I love you’s and thank you’s she’d likely ever hear from us, and then we left.
Regret is a feeling I’m familiar with. I feel the same regret I did when my grandmother passed away when I was in college. Regret that I hadn’t been more attentive, more THERE, more aware. Regret that I had my head so far up my own ass that I couldn’t see that there isn’t always another holiday or another barbeque or another…. Regret that I didn’t make that swing by that I promised for weeks and weeks….
There is never enough time. And that knowledge can drive us to do things that seem stupid and impulsive but at the same time also lead us to other things, better and more fulfilling ones. Ignoring what is directly in front of you should never be one of those choices. It takes a moment to redirect your route, leave a few minutes early or simply call, not doing so leaves the door open to regret.
The time between our ski trips and now feels like an eternity, and in a way it is, but now, with regret in the middle, the time between last week and today feels like forever as well.
In some cases, Time flies only if you let it go.
Yeah, this one really sucks.