On October 13, 2008, it will be 9,132 days ago that my son, Will, was born. After 36 hours of labor and finally a “C-section,” the team of gynecologist, nurse, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, and my husband had their first peek at the baby curled up inside me. I heard my baby doctor belt out, “I don’t know what it is, but it sure is pretty.” And beautiful he was.
When I had a chance to hold my son back in my quiet hospital room after he was cleaned up and comfortable in my arms, words passed across my consciousness that unsettled my new mother calm. “You better start preparing to let go of him. He’s out of the womb now, and with each new day he’ll be pushing for more freedom to make his own life.” I was holding him for the first time, but already hearing that I must let go. For me, at that moment, a new clock started.
I had three months of unpaid family leave to be with my son before I had to return to work. I planned to get Will on a regular feeding and sleeping schedule that could easily be transferred to his babysitter. My plans went awry, however, because of my own obsession with time. Daily I counted how many hours Will was with me versus how many hours he was with the sitter. No matter how kind and loving our grandmotherly sitter was I measured my contact hours. As a result, Will took long naps during the day, and stayed up late with Mom and Dad in the evenings. We were happy to be intimately involved in Will’s life experiences including his first steps, first words, and favorite activities.
When Will was one year old, I switched to part time work, which helped us share more experiences together. Three days at daycare were offset by four days at home. During Will’s toddler years there was much talk about how to plan quality time with one’s child. This message was particularly targeted toward working moms like me. I recall thinking that quality time was important, but it couldn’t compensate for scheduling as much time together as possible. I continued counting hours, running to meet school buses, traveling with him to soccer games—staying close, even if on the sidelines.
On September 24, 2007 Will died. He was 23 years, 266 days old. The accident happened at night, and it was 7 hours before we found him. I was counting on more time together, but Will’s clock stopped.
My life has been blessed with 11,394 days before Will, 8,746 days with Will, and now 336 days have passed since his death as my lifetime continues. I treasure the time my life overlapped with his. My memories are timeless, but I recognize that the pleasures of knowing and loving Will come from moments, days, and years that we shared. Life is time, and time is precious. This I believe.