Time Runs Out

Sarah Grecula essays

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Time is a fickle thing

sometimes it’s on your side, events coinciding just right

Other moments, time gets weird

smushing too many milestones too close together

February of 2013 my mother in law was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer

one month later my son, her fifth grandchild, was born

She wept at the hospital meeting this new member of our tribe

that wouldn’t retain any memories of her beyond the ones we passed down

His first year of life was bittersweet watching her clock wind down

while his was only getting started ticking

All the milestone moments she documented religiously on her digital camera for our daughter

were snapped on our Iphones instead and shared via text message

She passed away two days before his 1st birthday

life and death, celebration and mourning, collided under our roof

We had a special family day to honor our son

he was too little to know but we weren’t

And we’re still transitioning our formerly only child into recognizing her brother

as a person with his own inherent value and needs

So we bought a cake and took him to see the sharks and had a birthday lunch

in a pretend rainforest with animatronic gorillas

The wake and funeral that followed saw teary adults who clutched each other 

while children ran and squealed and played

After the service my daughter raced to our red-eyed huddle screaming

“There’s lunch in the cafeteria, and it’s FREE!”

We learned that children grieve differently

their tears and fears and broken hearts emerge at unexpected times

It’s like suffering a car crash and seeing the impact delayed, then replayed

many times over for our daughter

She gathers the nevers in the weeks and months that follow:

special sleepovers with Grandma Karen, horseback rides, cookie baking, rock painting

Nevermore. Until heaven.

All of us are changed

hearts have broken, innocence lost

And yet we are more reverent too of life and its gifts

we seize them with renewed zeal having been reminded

Exactly how too short this life can be


About the Author

Sarah Grecula

Sarah lives in Woodbury, Minnesota with her husband, six year old daughter and infant son. Her greatest pride is reserved for her children but earning her bachelor's degree last year while mothering and working full-time is a close second. She loves to read, write and chase her dreams while helping her family pursue their own.

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