I am grateful for time.

Exactly what that means has changed in the last few years. Time in the last nine months has looked like repainting my house, inside and out. It has looked like reading 75 books that have been on my shelves for years. Time has been in abundance as I sit at home with my kids. My part of the country has begun spending more time out. We get to go to church, go to the grocery store, gather with friends and family without the many mandates stopping us. But so many things are still being cancelled that my time has become much more free.

Before this virus, time meant something else entirely. Time was spent getting my ‘to do’ list done, going and running and trying to accomplish as much as possible so I didn’t feel like a lazy person. Time was something I was trying to reign in, control, take back and hold on to.

As I laid in my bed last night with my teenage son, my almost adult senior in high school, I was taken back to a time when he would crawl in my bed at night so we could read Star Wars novels together. I traveled through my memories to holding his tiny body in my arms and laughed at his nearly 6’ self taking up the entire length of my bed. While we laid there, I realized how tough this time has been on him. His childhood coming to a close in a time of chaos in our country and the world. I saw all the things I had hoped to do during this year of his life taken away. And I wished for time back.

I know I can’t get time back. But I am still grateful I had the time with him.

Two years ago, my family traveled to Texas to spend Christmas with my parents and sisters. It was a great weekend, really one of the best holidays I had ever had. We spent time with a beloved friend that was nearing the end of his life, we went downtown and laughed and shopped together. We took the one and only family picture that included everyone. We went home on Sunday and woke on Friday to the unexpected call that my father had passed away. We still only speculate what actually happened that night, but answers won’t change the fact that he was suddenly gone.

I thought back to all the time we had and all the time we didn’t have. He was only 65. It wasn’t a virus, it was just time. Somehow, looking back, I feel like he knew. That weekend was strange. All the things we did were somewhat out of character. It was like the final scene in a movie that gives you closure without realizing it.

But I am thankful for the time I had with him.

Time moves consistently, permanently. It can’t be stopped, or changed. It just is. And for that I am thankful. Each day that we experience love, loss, laughter, or depression we know that it will end and tomorrow will begin anew. We can’t go back. There are consequences to what we do. There are celebrations in our accomplishments. Then they are all set in our timeline and we keep moving forward.

As the holidays approach in this crazy year, I am reading about several states restrictions on family gatherings. I see some guilting others to do what they think is right. I see people asking why they aren’t allowed to think for themselves and make their own judgements. I see friends with older parents stuck in places that won’t allow any family to see them. I see hurt, I see pain, I see fear of a virus and death taking over.

Each of us only have a limited amount of time on this earth. Just like time, death can’t be stopped. It will happen to all of us.

“Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes. But we keep loving anyway.” –Wait For It from Hamilton

If I had missed that last Christmas with my dad out of fear of a virus, I would have been devastated. If I had missed the moment lying with my son, I would have missed a time I will always cherish. My dad is gone from this earth and my son will be leaving my home in the near future. These moments are fleeting. I can’t get them back.

Time and death are inevitable. So take advantage of the time so when the end comes, you don’t regret the time you’ve missed.