As bright as the sun shining up in the sky, I can vividly remember the last memory I have of my grandma. She died 17 years ago, and I carry that memory with me since then. Not in a bad way, not at all. At least not anymore. It was my first year at university, going through a completely new life chapter. I was dating a guy - my 5-years boyfriend at that time - and it was almost Valentine’s Day. My grandma had been at the same nursing home for the past couple of years, suffering from acute Alzheimer. I used to visit her every Tuesday after school. I would take the bus, walk 5 minutes to the elderly home and stay for 1 hour. Lately, I'd just sit next to her in the common living room while she stood there staring at the void. Occasionally she would say something, but often she just kept silent as if lost in her thoughts - though for me it seemed as if she had already departed. There were days when it hurt being there. There were days I wished I were somewhere else. Time had stayed still. I remember looking at the clock above the TV and wondering if it were broken, for each minute felt eternal. However, she was one of the most special persons in my life. She deserved my presence, my care, my love, and beyond. As I mentioned, Valentine’s Day was around the corner, and I wanted badly to celebrate it with my boyfriend. We had a whole pampering afternoon planned followed by a romantic dinner. It was a Tuesday. So, I decided to skip the visit to my grandma. It was only that Tuesday; no harm would come to the world - or so I thought. In the following morning, my mom came to me after a phone call to tell me that my grandma had died the day before. I was in shock. The words were devoid of meaning. It took me quite a while to assimilate the news. It was Wednesday. It was no longer Tuesday. If only I could go back in time and make up for it. But time does not work like that, we all know it.
Being in my teens did not facilitate the grief process. Part of me carried a high level of guilt throughout the following years. Rationally, I did know her death was not my fault. Though my subconscious would not let that feeling go, rather clinging to a concept of time impossible to change.
Why am I sharing this personal story with you? Well, partly because I am an advocate for authenticity and I believe that by being vulnerable we are not only sharing a piece of who we are, but also inspiring others – or so I hope – to share as well. And when we share, we feel less alone and at the same time more connected. I am also writing about this chapter of my life as an invite to think about time and its value.
On that day, I lost someone very special, someone I deeply loved. But I also learned a priceless lesson. We may live on borrowed time…however, what we do with our time is solely our responsibility. Let us stop complaining about the time we do not have and start making better use of the time we do have.
We decide how, where, with whom to spend our time with. Don’t fool yourself by denying it! The difference lies in consciously making these decisions. Consequently, there is no room left for complaints nor guilt. Yes, often we will have to make tough decisions. We cannot be in two places at the same time (not in the foreseeable future!). What we can do is to value time according to our priorities and being at peace with the decisions we make for ourselves.
What are you doing with your time? What would you like to do differently?