Strange things happen to the time after a bereavement. Some hours drag by, most plod.
Whilst each hour takes you further from the source of sadness, though it would seem to soothe, every second is one more in which the person you are missing has not been alive, which is more cause to lament the hours that pass, carrying someone away from you on a tide of time.
I have not seen my cousin much over the last few years. He married eleven years ago, finally, and his new wife bore him off like a trophy, which she had every right to do and they settled, at last into coupledom, which was all I ever wanted for him. On probably hundreds of occasions he had visited, had a lovely time and then gone home alone. It was certainly time he had time as half of a couple.
Then there were the five years I was caring for my mother which left hardly any time for anything else, not to mention all the weeks I tried to live there, followed by all the weeks I tried to live here and there simultaneously. Then there were the months when the S&H was meeting and marrying his wife, all centred round the death of her father; any spare time left from my family was given to their family.
Then my cousin had cancer and was too ill to travel and so had I and was I.
You always think there will be time.
There is no antidote or cure to the river of time that sweeps all people away from you, that’s just what it does.
You have to make sure you are present in your own life, for every second of your own life. Time out ingesting substances, is time stolen from yourself. Time spent living in your head in recriminations or anger or resentment is time you allow the past to steal from now.
My cousin was an accepting person. He never got in a stew about anything, however I was, was OK with him. As a result all I remember of all the time we spent together is laughter. We laughed such a lot at such silly things, we were never together without laughing.
If your time with someone is precious, and all time with people you love is precious because it is limited and you cannot see the end from here, make sure whatever you do in the time you have together will look good as a memory, when a memory is all you have.
Laughter makes a good memory. Kindness makes a good memory. Smiling at someone is a good memory. A lovely paper letter is a wonderful memory, it’s an authentic voice from a happy time. Gifts are best if made.
Time itself, time spent together, generously given to me by my cousin who travelled from wherever he was for a Christmas dinner, a summer evening, an autumn afternoon, a child’s birthday. These are the times I have, safe in memory. I compare them with times spent with other people. Times going to visit my parents, once I had escaped, were always stressful. The potential for being wrong was all-encompassing and whatever gift I had taken was never right. Times spent with my in-laws were difficult too, it wasn’t their fault, my mother-in-law was ill almost as soon as I knew her and needed care, at our expense.
I try hard to make the times spent with the S&H and his family as much like the times spent with my cousin as possible. All laughter, no agenda.
Soon it will be time to pack the memories away and get on with my life. It could have been the other way round, it could have been him remembering me.
Time is the concept we use to measure the passing of life. The Venerable Bede wrote that life was as a sparrow flying through a Saxon hall house. The time spent flying through the house was not the reality. The reality began when the sparrow escaped and flew free through the wind’s eye at the end of the hall, out from the candle light and into the sunshine.
I hope so.