Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Can Count on Me

I started counting recently. Sometimes counting. Sometimes timing. Just keeping track of the time. For instance, six seconds seems like much longer when you're rushing out the door. Really? Only six seconds to put your shoes on. When I count, I don't scream at Lily to HURRY UP. What is six seconds in the grand scheme of this journey?

Now, I haven't always been a counter. In fact the concept of counting to ten before verbally decapitating someone has always been foreign to me. I scream, feel immediate guilt, apologize and then carry the shame around for...well, I'm working on it.

Anyway, I started counting at the elementary school. At morning drop-off, people zip in and out of that parking lot as if they are rushing a hemorrhaging gunshot victim to the ER. If someone stops, holding up traffic to let the buses exit, said person gets unfriendly hand gestures. People. Lose. Their. Minds: throwing their hands in the air, flipping you off, pounding their steering wheels, etc. Now, I remember what it was like to have to rush to a job, so, one morning, I took out my phone and timed the buses leaving. It took 35 seconds.

Perhaps if you do have a gunshot victim in your backseat, that 35 seconds would be the difference between life and death. If not...1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10...calm down.

I counted to 10 so I didn't say calm the f#$k down. This counting business WORKS. Let's take it on the road!

Today, I took my mom grocery shopping. She has been home now for a few weeks and doing much better. Still, I don't want to just set her loose on the road after our recent scares. She is still moving pretty slowly. Lots of people move slowly at Walmart and not always because they're 83 and recovering from a hospital stay. Sometimes they are inconsiderate and rude and don't even realize that they're standing in the middle of the aisle blocking everyone's progress while they decide which cereal to buy. 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. Not so bad.

In the past, I scooted my mom through the store, apologizing repeatedly to everyone whose hurried progress we impeded. Today, I helped her navigate through uncrowded aisles and gently pulled her cart out of the middle of the aisle.

We made it through without incident.

I guided her to a non-crowded checkout line with a cashier I know--because I'm at Wal-Mart all. the. time--is very sweet and patient. My mom always writes a check, and it takes longer than it takes to swipe a card. Normally, I rush her through this process, "Mom, you can just give your check to the cashier; you don't have to fill it out." But today I realized that at 83 having lost her husband of more than 50 years, two sons, most of her hearing, many friends, a lot of her independence, and nearly her life a month ago, she could write a check if she wanted.

Then I counted. 1.2.3.4.5...the woman behind us rolled her eyes. 6.7.8.9.10...she sighed loudly and looked at the person behind her for commiseration. I stared at her and felt my blood pressure rising and angry words catching in my throat. 11.12.13.14.15. the guy in the next line lobbied for my agreement on something, "Isn't that right, Blondie?" Shut. The. F#$k. Up. Start again: 1.2.3. Oh she's done.

It took her 18 seconds to write a check. I apologize to the woman behind us in line if she was 18 seconds late for her next important appointment, or if the gunshot victim in her car died during those 18 seconds or the subsequent 6 it took my mom to produce her id. I met her glare with a smile.

I can't tell you how many times I'm surprised that what seems to be taking so long is often just a few seconds. It's often something Lily or my mom is doing. I'm trying really hard not to rush them anymore. I feel like I've been hurrying Lily since she was born--even before she was born--and the other day I watched her swinging effortlessly across the monkey bars. She no longer needed me to walk beside her or catch her when she jumped down or just "be there." A big old lump rose up in my throat as I thought...Oh no...I rushed it all away.

So, I'm counting instead rushing today. Because sometimes those seconds seem so long, until you're on the other side looking back and wishing you had just a few more.

4 comments:

  1. Pausing, taking a deep breath. This is a beautiful piece/peace. Blessings my friend~

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, my beautiful friend <3 Blessings to you!

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  2. I have a bad habit of rushing people, too. Thanks for this reminder.

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