Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Value of Three Minutes

We have designated Wednesday our "from the heart" day. This is the day when I will share something meaningful that has touched me in the last week. I share these things with you not in an attempt to judge others or lead; simply to allow you to get to know who I am and what I believe in. If I can offer some comfort to you or leave you with a smile, then my postings have served to touch another heart and that is what our "from the heart" day is meant to do.

If you have read last weeks post then you already know that I have been dealing with the loss of a close friend. Death has touched my life in some aspect not once, but five times in the last two weeks. Death is a natural part of our existence and something that we all must face.

I was led to my writing today by the death of my father-in-law who passed away eighteen hours ago. We arrived at the hospital three minutes too late to say good bye to him. I had never contemplated the value of three minutes.

One hundred eighty seconds.

Less time than it takes to grab a snack.

Less time than it takes to open my gate when I'm leaving my home.

Less time than it takes to fully restart my computer.

What can possibly be accomplished in that short amount of time? Today I can sadly answer that question. Everything that truly matters and is important.

Standing in the hospital room with the remains of my father-in-law I recalled a time not so long ago when I was angry with my mother. Two years passed without a phone call, a visit or a letter. This was my choosing and at the time I felt it validated. I realize now that I can never recapture those two years.

I took a moment yesterday to give thanks to God. I thanked Him for blessing me with wonderful parents and siblings. We fight, we have our disagreements, but we are bound with the ties of love. Above all I thanked Him for letting my Mother live long enough for the two of us to mend our fences. Standing there yesterday, faced with the finality of death; I realized that had I lost her during those two years that I could never have possibly forgiven myself for my own part in our problems.

Looking down on my dead father-in-law I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that disagreements with family members are often very minimal in the grand scheme of things. No amount of pride and anger and hurt feelings would have been worth those two years; had they been my last two with my Mother.

My mind processed all of those thoughts, all of those feelings, all of those regrets in less than three minutes.

We as humans take time for granted. We put things off and prioritize our hours with the concept that there is always tomorrow. We avoid things that are painful, things that torture or agonize us and prefer to neatly tuck those feelings away and simply not deal with them. We point fingers in accusation and by doing so, we allow ourselves to make excuses for not making changes. We wait on the other person to make the first move, the first call, the "I'm sorry", because we all want to believe so strongly that our opinion is the correct one.

As I write this I look around at the friends and loved ones in my life that are preparing to or have buried parents in the last two weeks. Death has never touched my life so heavily in such a short span of time. I see red rimmed eyes and pain in the hearts of so many that I genuinely love and care about. In death there can be rebirth; there can be new life. Life in those left behind that can take from the sorrow and go forward a little more aware of the true value of the difference that three small minutes can make.

In three minutes we can do many, many things;
We can share a hug with a loved one.

We can offer a smile to a stranger.

Above all else we can say "I'm sorry and I love you" and in doing so we may one day realize that that those were the most valuable three minutes in a lifetime.

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