There are many times when the families I serve cannot get to me, so I go to them. Because of this, a few weeks ago I found myself in the kitchen of the most kind little old lady making funeral arrangements for her husband who had passed earlier that day. We sat and talked about her husband and their many years of marriage as we put together the details of his funeral service.
She sat with her white dog on her lap and sadness in her eyes. She told me stories of her husband’s military career and how she often thought that he would have stayed in the Army for life had she not come along. She then looked me in the eyes and with a coy smile proceeded to tell me how she had married the most handsome man alive. I assured her that her husband was sure to have been good-looking in his younger days. That did not seem to satisfy her, however, and she proceeded to get up from the chair (dog still in her arms) and go to another room of the house. When she returned, she had in her hands a beautiful military photo of a gentleman who could not have been much other than eighteen. And he was very handsome.
Looking at the photo, I noticed the tears in the corner of her eyes begin to well up. She lightly brushed her finger along the photograph. Suddenly, she looked up.
“Where did the time go?”, she asked.
I found this to be a funny question, as she was directing it at a twenty-four year old funeral director. What do I know about time? What do I know about life?
I know that time goes quickly and I cannot slow it down. I know life can be beautiful and terribly sad. And I know that in a way, I am afraid of both. Because was it not just yesterday, when my husband and I were little fifteen year old kids riding our bikes in the summer heat to get an ice cream cone? And here we are, seven months into a marriage and partnership that we spent the last nine years dreaming of.
Time does not wait until we are ready. Time is not polite, gently nudging us forward down our paths whispering, “after you.” Time races along side of us, as we try to catch our breath. Time laughs in our faces, as we approach the finish line and look back on our journey wondering how we ever let it pass us by.
This beautiful, little old lady looked back to the photograph of her husband, entranced in a memory of long ago. And for a moment, I could see myself in the future, gently caressing an old photograph and whispering to myself, “where did the time go”.