Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Tyranny of Time

It is strange to know that I have entered that phase in my life when people I know, my peers, will begin to die and it will become less and less unexpected. The tyranny of time rules every one; we just don't know how much of a clock we each have.

A woman I know passed away this morning. She was diagnosed over a year ago, with cancer that was terminal from the very beginning. She is young. She leaves behind a husband and three children under the age of 10. It is truly awful, in the deepest, purest sense of that word. It is awful and it is ordinary, and it is a thing that will happen to us all. It will happen to many of us far sooner than it should, for her especially.

Death will one day grab us all. I know this to be true. I've had the experience of  wondering in a very real, very literal sense whether I will be alive in three months. In the early days of my diagnosis, when we didn't know stage or grade, I really wondered how much time I had left. And even having lived that, death is still, mostly, an abstract. I can often forget about my eventual demise, and breath deeply of the sweet, musty spring air and be grateful that another year is reborn and I am here to see it. That forgetting is a good thing. What a waste of a life to spend it consumed by death. But on days like today, I spend more time thinking about the end, and less about the act of living.

This business of aging is difficult. It is hard for those who live to see the end of time's passage for others. I wonder if it isn't harder still for those who see their end coming too soon. Those who know they have been cheated of years and time and memories. That is what I'm thinking of tonight. Not just of the children and husband left behind with a void where once a mother and wife was. But also of that mother and wife, who must have grieved the part of her life yet lived, that will remain forever un-lived. Such a terrible thing, the tyranny of time.

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