Every day is twenty four hours long, but how many hours of every day do we really live?
Today is my Dad’s birthday and I wanted to write a post reflecting on the Dad I miss even after twenty eight years. Then I remembered a post, which I’d written almost two years ago. This post tells more than anything new I could write, what I learned from losing Dad so early and the legacy he left me.
Happy Birthday Dad. You may have had to leave too soon, but I like to think that you live on in all of us, and continue to make an impression on our everyday lives.
I hope there is a message in here for everyone.
How Much Of Every Day Do We Really Live?
As a nurse, I became very aware,
that time is precious.
When I was working in accident and emergency,
I would drive to work,
knowing that in some homes,
the day ahead would change their world.
For some that morning would be their last.
For others life would never be the same again.
When I first walked out onto a ward,
and saw people of all ages,
with life threatening conditions,
I feared illness.
My friends and I would talk together.
We would hope,
that when our time ran out,
that it would do so in a sudden unannounced bang!
Then illness came knocking on my door.
My 52 year old Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neuron disease.
No treatment, no cure.
His life would definitely not be long.
We were not even given hope.
Maybe a year or two if we were lucky,
but he would eventually have no quality of life.
You would think that with time limited,
we would feel each day fly by,
and the end of life to be rushing towards us,
at a frightening speed.
However strangely that did not happen.
The opposite occurred.
Time slowed down.
There was still 60 seconds in every minute,
and each day lasted 24 hours.
However for all of us in our family,
the clock ticked louder.
We had no minutes to waste.
Time became precious,
and something we did not take for granted.
Each day now was made up of exactly 24 hours,
with not one second wasted.
For my Dad I cannot say what it meant,
to know he would not be staying long.
But I do know he had no bucket list.
My Dad lived on.
Just as he always did.
Working for a few more months,
until his health forced him to retire.
Enjoying his days as best he could,
and continuing to be a large presence in our lives,
even when movement and speech were gone.
It was during this time that my attitude to illness changed.
As I spoke at length to my Dad,
sharing my everyday life with him,
in a way a twenty year old never would do,
with a parent,
I came to realize,
that to be given this knowledge,
that time was limited,
and every day precious,
was in fact a privilege.
By being told as a family,
that for us our time with Dad was to be short,
we were in fact being given time.
Instead of a father at work,
and a family living busy lives,
we were a family living every moment.
There was no time wasted.
Every second counted.
Right up until the moment,
that time ran out.
In those bleak days, months and weeks,
after my Dads clock stopped,
time changed once more.
Each day was still made up of 24 hours,
yet each day seemed endless,
and the future which was short before Dad died,
now seemed too long.
Since then the days have turned into years.
The clock has continued to tick.
I have married and had children.
As time has passed I have lived through,
what seemed like the never ending long days,
of sleepless nights and crying children.
Now time has changed once more.
It is once again racing by.
My small babies are distant memories.
In a few weeks another of my brood will leave home.
I cannot slow time down.
Each day is 24 hours,
yet some days are just too short.
The clock that has ticked all my life,
I do not know for how long it will tick,
but for today and everyday,
I appreciate my twenty four hours in every day,
and I try to make every minute count.
Each night as I turn out the light,
I smile, grateful for the day I had,
and know I am lucky to have a tomorrow to look forward to.