On Counting Time

The Christmas tower of candies, pretzels, and chocolates I ordered arrived at my grandmother’s house today. Nestled at the end of Arlington Drive, she lived in the house for over fifty years, with very few nights not spent in her bedroom at the end of the hall. But, yesterday, the day before my Christmas gift arrived, she moved to a nursing home to receive the level of care she now needs. Pick any one of the last 18,000+ days, and she would have been there to receive the gift. You almost have to try to have timing that terrible!

This time of year, timing is a big thing. Kids are counting down the days to Santa’s arrival. It’s an agonizing count. I can still recall feigning illness one Christmas Eve as a child, hoping, somehow, that it would make the day go faster. I’m sure I learned that, whether you’re participating or not, time does not sympathize.

It’s not just kids counting days or this time of year, though. Adulthood is all about counting the days. Hubby and I watch the calendar as we prepare to move and wonder how many days until our adoption finally materializes. My sister wakes each day, closer to ending the chapter of her marriage and striking out, single, soon. Mom tarries over her mother and an impending goodbye, while Dad acclimates to his new cashier job at the local retail store during the holiday rush. My brother- and sister-in-law count the days to their baby’s first birthday, as well as the days to their next baby’s birth, while my mother-in-law juggles an impressive social calendar with the responsibilities of a family matriarch. My best friend frets his next court date with the ol’ ex-, while my aunt spends her time in Escher-like administrative litigation.  Coming full circle, my older nephews plead with me for hints about their Christmas gifts, unable to bear the nearly infinite amount of time before they can open them.

We’re all a day or two away from the next big thing, biding our time until we can cross it off the list. It may be wonderful, it may be awful, but, regardless, it’s the rhythm and order of our lives. It’s the foreseeable and unforeseeable sequence of future events that give such meaning to our current selves. And it’s such a cliche to ruminate about “living in the moment,” especially when so many of our moments find our minds trying to make sense of the past or to give order and meaning to the future.

The cookie company e-mailed me to say that my grandmother’s gift had been delivered “on schedule,” but I knew it was one day late. Most definitely, one day late.


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