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Time is a thief

For the last year I’ve been telling myself that I’m lucky compared to so many other people. There’s been no cruel Covid death in the family. No overwhelming loneliness because I’m a shy introvert who loves living alone. I’m in a nice little house instead of a cramped apartment. I’m pretty healthy for my age (77), despite a bout with cancer five years ago. My son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren (15 and 18) live just a mile away, although I haven’t seen them except for porch dropoffs, and my son calls almost every day. I’m retired and haven’t lost a job or home. Nor has my son or DIL. And now we adults are all fully vaccinated. We’re certainly among the lucky ones.

And yet, I’ve felt pretty bummed during this Covid year. Yes, I missed my grandson’s graduation (in a parking lot) and was distressed that he didn’t get the kind of graduation and prom that I had — although it might not have mattered to him at all. Certainly no cause for grief on my part. A year of disappointments, sure, but not grief.

Then a few days ago, in the New York Times, I read “It’s OK to Grieve for the Small Losses of a Lost Year.” And I felt a little better. Maybe it’s normal to feel bummed about the past year because, after all, there were losses. Relatively small losses, but losses nonetheless.

About a month ago I learned that my grandson, instead of working or going to college nearby, was joining the Marines and would be heading to boot camp in September. He’d be gone. Grown up and gone. All those weekly visits we’d missed, chatting and playing video games, would never be recouped. There wouldn’t be a year in which to get them back. I’d lost a year with him. A very important year. Our last year? Who knows when he’ll be home again. And at my age, who knows if I’ll still be around. I texted him about his leaving: “It seems so … permanent.” And he replied: “Kinda is.” At that point I had to stop because I couldn’t see my phone anymore.

Then yesterday I read “The Year Grandparents Lost”, also in the NY Times, and saw this:

Grandparent grief — a term used by Emma Payne, founder of a company called Grief Coach — involves another dimension: older people recognize that time with their families is growing limited. The average age for becoming a grandparent in the United States is 50, but many grandparents are older, or face health problems.

A year apart can feel more wrenching to a 75-year-old, for whom it represents a greater proportion of her remaining life span, than to her 35-year-old son or daughter.

[emphasis mine]

At last. A concise description of what I’d been feeling but hadn’t conciously admitted to myself.

Yes. It’s true.

Time is indeed a thief.

20 Comments »

  1. Just because we are among the “lucky ones” (secure finances, safe home, yard, etc.), it doesn’t mean we can’t grieve for what we’ve lost. I hope that you will be able to spend a lot of time with your grandson. September is a long time away and even the Marines let their enlistees go home once in a while.

    • Sometimes September seems a long way off, with a whole summer between now and then. Other times it seems almost like next week. Time is getting kind of funny. We’ve been through a WHOLE YEAR of Covid. But sometimes it seems like it just started last week, as though someone had snapped their fingers and everything between March 2020 and March 2021 just evaporated. Poof! With that in mind, September seems just around the corner. In any case, I’ll understand if Grandma isn’t at the top of an 18-year-old’s list of priorities.

  2. johnthecook…because time is a thief, and we can never get it back, I always remember…We were never promised tomorrow or even the whole day so live each day with that in mind. Don’t live recklessly but do plan, for if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Choose who you live for and make it count and do it wisely.

  3. You have shocked me…been following you for years and thought you were in your twenties or thirties. You got to me with this piece. Im 52 and and covid makes me feel every year and then some. Im not a grandma yet and I pray I will be oneday. This year has taken me beyond the rethoic of business and fast paced to here and now. Thank you for sharing…we are oceans away but this post connects with me so here is a hug and a virtual cuppa tea coffee or glass of wine, whatever you wish…its on my tab. #caribbeanlove

    • LOL. I wasn’t trying to deceive anyone. Sorry about that. I’m 77 and there’s not much I can do about it. 🙂 The past year has certainly given us reason to pause and think about what’s really important to us. Nothing like losing something for a year to make you really appreciate it. I’ll take that hug and a glass of wine, please. Sounds wonderful.

  4. I love what “John, t he Cook” said that “—we weren’t promised even the whole day, so we’d best make the most of every moment of every day and let our loved ones know they are loved! (from an “old” singer)

  5. Well you have me in tears. I’m so sorry to hear that your Grandson will be gone, but take comfort…my mother is 88, still going strong and we have a game night with her, two of her grandchildren and my husband’s niece once a week. It’s a way to stay connected…a game night isn’t necessary, but FaceTime can bring them home to you.
    I’m 66 and still not a Grandmother…I’m a bit jealous of the time you’ve had to be one. Our daughter miscarried her first baby a few months back. Covid stole away the hugs I yearned to give her, the chance to kiss and comfort my beautiful daughter. The hugs I wanted to give my son-in-law could never be delivered.
    They’ve opened up vaccination to all ages in my state…or will in the next few days. I’m still going to be afraid to hug them.

    • Well now you have me in tears. To have a daughter going through that and not being able to help or comfort her … I can’t even imagine. Yes, even after full vaccination, it takes a while to shake off the caution you’ve practiced for a year. But it can be done. And those are going to be the best hugs you’ve ever had.

Now that I've had my say ...

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