Time ran out. Clocks stopped. And here we are, those who loved her, bereft and not quite knowing what to do with ourselves. Her body, dressed and washed by her husband, awaits the day when we farewell her and commit her to the fire. And we who are left are shellshocked, left breathless, by the last seven weeks of being consumed, by her, with love for her. The chasm is large, unthinkable, unbearable, but somehow we are thinking of it, bearing it, feeling it’s hugeness, being with each other without her. She was the sun around which we orbited, the moon that determined our tides. We have lost our reference point – we promise that we won’t disappear out of each other’s lives, but she was who we looked to, to hold us altogether. And yet, we cannot fall apart. Neither for her sake, nor for ours. We had one anchor, and unanchored now, we have to throw out all the draglines in desperate attempts to stay where we are. Or perhaps we will drift together, we flotsam and jetsam, we weary stragglers. At the moment, though, we are becalmed.
So often, in the past, I have willed time to speed up. When I was about 7, I vividly remember seeing some 10 year olds having, what I thought, was a very serious discussion and wished I could be as old as them, and have serious discussions too. And at various times during my life, I willed days and years to pass more quickly. Now, I wish time would slow down. Just yesterday, I willed the day to go faster, and realised that by doing so, I was willing Carol’s death to come quicker. Over the last few days, it has become painfully clear that we don’t have much longer with her. That the cancer is spreading very aggressively, and is taking over her body. She has been spared, at least, the ignominy of the aggressive treatments and so feels, as much as one can when one is being ravaged from the inside out, not too bad. But time is not our friend. We cannot hope to process any of this effectively, nor can we spend time in a leisurely fashion. Everything that needs to be done has an element of rushing about it. She feels it keenly. In the last couple of days, she has started to verbalise that sense of urgency. All of us who make up her family feel it. The doctors feel it. And there is nothing to be done, and yet everything. How I wish I could slow time down. Just for a bit more of it.