The Luxury of Time
Someone suggested I write my next column on “the luxury of time,” a phrase I referred to in my last piece about procrastination. To some people, this luxury may not seem like a luxury at all, but something elusive because our society always has something to do.
What I was referring to, of course, is the luxury we all have of being given 24 hours in a day for as long as we are alive. Unfortunately, that luxury we had with our 15-year-old Dacshund ran out for us this week. She grew old and weak (as all of us will) and simply could not go on.
And although it had been awhile since Hershey ran and played with her ball, tore at her Christmas presents or sported her doggie lifejacket to go on the boat with us, those are the times we remembered. As we reminisced over photos, we asked ourselves, did we spend enough time doing those things or did we tell her we were too busy one too many times when she dropped her ball at our feet? Were we patient enough in her senior years when she had trouble navigating the narrow deck on the boat or could we have taken her out more?
These are all questions we ask ourselves when any loved one passes. Did we misuse the luxury of time we had with this person/being?
Of course, all of us think we could have done better in every relationship. That’s what makes us imperfect humans. But then I ask myself, if I had known what I know right now, would I have done any different? Probably not, because there are always errands to run, bills to pay and other things we have to do. Unfortunately, we can’t spend 24/7 doing what we love with those we love.
For Hershey, the world became a much better place whenever I was able to quit leaving her for 12 hours a day and start working from home. When I couldn’t play ball or fetch with her, she was content to curl in her bed at my feet in my office while she waited for me to finish my work.
The question then becomes not if I’ve wasted the luxury of time I’ve been given, but how I fill the void, the big hole left on the floor beside me where Hershey used to lay?
We go on, of course. We put the guilt aside and we resolve to do better with all those loved ones remaining in our lives. We promise ourselves to spend more time with our elderly parents. We resolve not to have as many fights with our spouses. And we command ourselves to get out and play a bit more ball – be it with our human kids or our furry ones. We know it’s a balancing act, because there are always the errands to run and bills to pay. Death only makes us more aware of that fact.
But today the bills can wait.
I’m going to find a good game of ball with the furry critters we have left.