Life is ending in three days

May2006ChrisSleepingOnMassageTableFor as long as I can recall I’ve remembered dates, I think its how I am wired. I can make an “anniversary” out of just about any event that catches my attention. Over the years I figured my method for having an iron trap memory. I don’t actually remember the date; I remember how to figure the date out from the other events going on at the time. Cool eh?

For example, I knew something important had occurred in November, the year was 1979 because I wasn’t married or out of college yet, it happened the night of a concert on a Friday… oh yes, November 3rd 1979 I proposed to my first wife. That’s how it works.

Of course that example is a big date, trust me though, the lesser dates never seem to escape me.

Each year since my first divorce (…and I hate saying ‘first’) I dread the final days of summer visitation with my kids. My second ex-wife (…does this madness ever end!?) used to tell her kids to stay clear of me for the week before and after, I wasn’t the most pleasant person you’d find.

When I know the end is at hand my behavior changes. I do things to drag out the final days, forestall the inevitable, and often rob myself and others of sweet goodbyes and fond memories of completely good times.

July 26th is the day that lumes large this summer, my son returns to Arizona.

Last year July 27th was the fast approaching foe, that was the day my son hopped on a plane and returned to Phoenix in 2006. Adding pressure to my sinking feeling was pressures at work because I was up against deadlines, I labored over how to make the final days with my son pleasant. A close friend listened to me obsess about my situation and then offered some advice, and for me the moment was an epiphany. Here is the advice: If you had only three days left to live, with whom would you rather spend your time with? You wouldn’t waste another thought about unfinished work of your employer! And then… BAM! Flashing lights went off, sirens sounded, fans cheered, I breathed a sigh of relief and my load suddenly lightened. That simple advice freed me.

I enjoyed the remaining days with my son, I didn’t work even for a moment. I was unconcerned about the deadlines, metaphorically speaking you see, “life was ending in three days and it’s my son that I wanted to spend the time with!”

He returned to his home in Phoenix on a high note that carried him through his other visits the remainder of the year, expressing excitement about coming to see me in way I’d never heard before. He always wanted a repeat of those last days of miniature golfing and bowling, running through the sprinkler, learning to start my car (he especially loved that one) and getting to stay up all night watching silly shows until he crashed on the couch and needed to be carried to bed.

When the end comes, it’s an airplane that flies off to a distant place carrying all that matters in the world to me. Each year I stay to watch the plane disappear in the sky, I never tire of that exercise.

Thanks for reading this far. The sprinkler is on, care to join me for a run?


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7 Responses

  1. Tim H says:

    It's a curious thing to me that others place such a high value on being unique and set apart in life when I find the most comfort in knowing my experiences are common to others too. I don't mind this kind of familiarity with folks. Being unique and 'set apart' from the crowd is mostly isolating, and often it's a hole we're in, not a pedestal we're standing on.

    I have "empty nested" enough to know the pain and disorientation I feel each time it happens will pass. Small consolation to be 'ok' with my kids being gone.

  2. Rose J. says:

    Sound advice from your friend. Actually, something we should put in practice with how we all should live anyway, as if it is our last.

  3. Donna says:

    OK, how many of us have a son named Chris?

  4. Sunny Bee says:

    Great attitude…and it does give one cause to ponder, too.

    Oh, and I'm up for a sprinkler run!!! hahahahahaha

  5. Sandy B says:

    Beautifully written, wrenching amd heartfelt.
    My son moved to live with my ex a couple of weeks ago. He has a good job there, and many more opportunities, and he's 17… But still. The nights are so empty, the house so quiet. Chris sparkles; he's funny. It's so hard to learn to be alone.
    Thanks for your blog, Tim….

  6. Donna says:

    I understand. I never had to share custody, but watch my son deal with this. He doesn't get his son for a long stretch of time like this, but as he is 20 miles away, has the every other weekend thing. He is supposed to have him 2 weeks in the summer, but the mom always makes other plans, Yes, Chris could fight her, but won't. He doesn't want to deprive Shayn of baseball, swimming lessons and everything else he has going on at home. (and can't afford to run to the lawyer all the time)

  7. [deleted] says:

    This touched me, Tim. Very nice. And, yes, your friend gave you wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing this with us sweety.

    (((((((((( smooches ))))))))))))