Six Minutes

Six minutes. It doesn’t seem like a long time does it? There’s really not much you can do in that short amount of time. You might be able to make a peanut butter sandwich or perhaps make your bed.

Six minutes is the exact amount of time I have left with my Mother-In-Law.

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I wrote that on April 8th, 2021…exactly one year ago today. I didn’t have the heart to revisit those words until today.

It had been a short but very long road. In late December 2020, it was discovered that my beautiful Mother-in-Law (to be referred to as MIL moving forward) was sick. By mid March 2021, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We had gone out for several visits in that time (we live about 2.5 hours away). By the end of March, we were called out to say our goodbyes and assist with her care. On April the 8th, my Daughter’s birthday, we had to head home because she wanted to be home for her birthday. I couldn’t blame her. It was her 10th birthday and I didn’t want her special day to be shrouded with sadness. Before we left, I went to see my MIL one last time.

The morning that I went to see my MIL, I was truly heartbroken. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to do. All I could do was cry as the unforgiving hand of Father Time steadily moved forward. Half an hour…20 minutes…15 minutes…10 minutes…six minutes. It was then that I pulled out my phone and wrote those words. They only took a moment to write (thank you talk to text!) but I knew I would want to write about my thoughts and experience. Words always help.

In that moment, all I could think about was time and how it doesn’t slow down or stop for anyone. In that moment, I had six minutes left with her. Six minutes. Six minutes is nothing and yet, in that moment, it was everything. What can one do in six minutes? Make a sandwich…get dressed…watch a few commercials? Six minutes…is nothing. Yet it was EVERYTHING.

I spent one of those minutes panicking over what I should do or what I should say. I knew I had already said everything to her before she lost consciousness. But I wanted to be sure that she knew how much she mattered to me…to my kids…to my Husband (her Son)…to all of us. I wanted her to know that she would be remembered. I wanted to tell her that I would take care of her Son and her Grandchildren. I wanted to ask her to watch over my kids when I wasn’t near them. I wanted to beg her to fight (a battle that I already knew was over). I wanted to scream at the doctors and nurses to make her well (though I knew they couldn’t). I prayed to God to stop time for just a few more minutes. Please…just a few more minutes. Please.

I looked at the clock. Two minutes left. I knelt by her bed, took her hand in mine and held it against my face. I told her how very much we all loved her and how much we would miss her. I kissed her head, held my cheek against hers until it was time to go. As I was leaving the room I hesitated and glanced back one more time…then, with tears streaming down my face, I joined my family who were waiting in the van.

As I joined my family and we started the drive home, I couldn’t help but notice what was going on around me. A man was heading into the grocery store with some reusable bags, there were lots of people in the drive thru at McDonald’s waiting to order their lunch and a couple were walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalk. None of them knew what was happening…what was going to happen. None of them knew the pain and sorrow we were all feeling. Life was going on and I couldn’t help but feel angry. Two days later, we lost my beloved Mother-in-Law.

Time is so precious. Life is precious. We should always do our best to never waste time. Time is always moving forward. We’ve all heard the saying “never wish your time away” and that saying means more to me now then it ever did. What I wouldn’t give to have those six minutes back.

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I spent a long time editing this before finally posting!

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