...... moves forward.
Despite what we want.
Despite how we feel.
Despite who we've lost.
So it's now 2013.
It's interesting how my concept of time has changed since Jim died.
I mean, I was always aware of how fast time seems to go. When you've got children you're more than aware of that.
But back then, in my "before", if someone asked about when an event happened, and I had to figure out the year, I'd try to think how old the kids were then. Or how many we had. My children were always the ruler for how I measured time.
But in the last 5 years, here in my "after", if I have to figure out a year ...... I first have to remember if Jim was alive ...... or dead, when an event occurred.
And for some reason, that's getting harder to do. I don't know if it's due to "widda brain", or if it's because it seems like a thousand years ...... and yesterday, all at the same time.
Today Son #1 and I were watching Jeopardy and a question was asked about something that happened in 2003. Once I knew the answer my thoughts turned to this: "How long did Jim have left when that occurred?"
His death, and his life, are now my ruler for measuring time.
It's either, how long had Jim been dead when that happened, or how long did he have left before that night that came out of nowhere. The night that changed my life, and my children's lives, forever.
Of course, once I figure out how many years, or months, or days we had until our world as we knew it ended, I then wonder what, if anything, we would've done differently ...... had we known.
I haven't come up with a firm answer ...... yet.
Of course we would've spent more time together as a family, but would things have changed drastically? Some widowed people, many of you who are reading this now, had a certain amount of knowledge, or estimations, on how long you had left. Did that cause the two of you to change things in your lives?
We had no knowledge, nor forewarning ...... no matter how much we should've had. So I can only speculate. I can only guess.
My first thought is that Jim would've quit his job and all 8 of us would have traveled together, spent time doing exactly what we wanted, or maybe have moved somewhere tranquil and beautiful all by ourselves.
And then I come to my senses and know, with certainty, that had we done that, we (ironically) would've killed each other.
Because families can stand only so much "togetherness" all by themselves ...... before someone breaks. And goes off on someone else.
Really, it's only a matter of time.
If we had decided to run away from it all to a place of beauty and tranquility, we would've had to take 2 of our daughters out of college and all three sons out of school (Son #1 was in his senior year when Jim died).
I think that, though the kids would've appreciated that thought, they would also have been a bit tense about the thought of interrupting their educations. Well, all except for the youngest two (Sons 2 & 3), who would've been overjoyed at leaving school behind, with the thought to never return again.
And then I also realize that Jim made a good living. Good enough to pay our bills, own our home, and send our kids to college.
But if he had quit his job to just hang out with us, it wouldn't have been long before we'd all been hanging out under a bridge somewhere. I think tranquility and beauty can get pretty expensive. Especially for 8 people.
So, had we known, I have no idea what we would've done, if anything, to change our lives.
Years ago, Oprah asked a question of her studio audience: "If you only had 2 weeks to live, what would you do?"
One man stood up and said, "I'd have my mother-in-law move in with us, because she can make two weeks seem to last forever."
Which of course is hilarious ...... and yet something to ponder.
If you had the chance to change your lives, knowing that your spouse would die in _____ (fill in the blank), would you try to live normally, or change things up so much that time would seem to last forever (meaning you, or someone, would be miserable)?
Time moves forward.
And while it takes us a while to get used to that, in our "after", and we many times have no control over what we are handed, we sometimes do have the ability to make the most of it. While it's here.
It took me a long while to be able to do that, to grasp it.
I knew it, but I couldn't do it.
Neither can many of you.
But the day will come ...... that you will.
You will not only know it, but desire it. You'll want to make the most of what you have.
And that's exactly what your loved one would've wanted.
As you would want for him/her if the person who died had been you.
That day will come.
You may not believe that today.
Just try not to get upset when I say, "I told you so."