Remember to Always Burn Bright - Uncover Ostomy
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Remember to Always Burn Bright

I’m not afraid of a lot of things.

Not in the “I’m too proud to admit that I’m afraid of something” way, but more so in the sense that, when you’ve been through as much as I have, most things are much less scary, in comparison.

I’ll easily admit that I don’t like heights (not in terms of flying, but in terms of standing on top of a really tall ladder, obstacle course, rollercoaster, etc.), and I dislike a lot of things, like needles, and surgery, and death. Because I’ve had to confront these things head on, and have survived, the anxiety I had once had in the past has dulled.

It wasn’t until this week, however, that I realized that I am, in fact, scared of one thing.

Frightened. Terrified.

Of this one, all-consuming, ever-flowing, never stopping, life-altering thing.

Time.  

Time moves along like a train barrelling across a track. It has a predetermine route that it will continue to follow until it reaches its destination.

Except time doesn’t have a destination.

Time continues to barrel on, never slowing, never stopping, because nothing can ever get in its way.

Nothing, and no one can control time.

It just ticks along.

Tick, tick, tick.

I mean, that’s horrifying, right?

It was Thursday night that I really realized how terrorizing the concept of time is.

I accompanied my Zaida (grandfather) to his retirement home’s Passover dinner. I love my Zaida very much, and did not hesitate to agree to join the festivities. It’s just, you know, retirement homes.

I’ve never ever liked the idea of being old. I’ve actually said, many times, that I’d rather live a rich and full life while I can, and then end it when living becomes more of a hassle than an enjoyment.

It was this same logic that I applied when I was offered ostomy surgery. I would have rather had surgery to stay alive and live a normal life, than to be stuck, sick, in a bed, unable to live. I mean, I was going to die, but I had my chance to live life, so I took it. But when you’ve reached the end of your life, there are no more options. That’s it.

Time decides that for you.

Tick, tick, tick.

While I enjoyed spending time my Zaida, over the holiday dinner, I couldn’t help but scan the room. I saw tons of octogenarians sitting in their wheelchairs – some with family members, and even sadder, some without – trying to eat the chicken dinner they had been served. And it was hard for them. Hard for them to eat.

Time made them this way.

Terrifying.

At the end of the festivities, my mother and I wheeled my Zaida back to his room and said our goodbyes. It was time for us to have our own meal. We began discussing options, until my mom suddenly knew exactly where we were going to eat: Sushi Bar.

Sushi Bar is a restaurant owned by a man named Jimmy. Jimmy once owned another sushi restaurant called “Dr. Sushi,” and it was my father’s favourite restaurant. Jimmy’s restaurant was the first place I had ever tried sushi, after my dad began bringing me there, at 8 years old, for our many father-daughter dates.

One day, over california rolls and eel sushi, I mentioned to Jimmy that I loved his place and that I wanted him to do well. Jimmy, delighted, said that he had a way that I could help him. He handed me a tshirt and a handful of fliers, and told me that I could help him by going to flier the neighbourhood. He promised to pay me, and I was delighted to have been offered my first job. My dad, fully supported me, and we had planned to give out the fliers, together. 

Now, the details get fuzzy from this point.. but I remember that I never had the chance to flier. I got sick. I ended up in the hospital.

And I remember being extremely upset about being unable to flier. I felt like I was letting Jimmy down.

Time went by.

Eventually, Jimmy closed Dr. Sushi.

Time had decided that it was time for a change.

We never actually knew where Jimmy had gone, and it was just one of those things that happened.

Recently, however my mother and some of her friends ended up at a restaurant, that she found out, was his. He had come back into town and opened up a new shop. She had, apparently, gone up to him and introduced herself, and he knew exactly who she was. He also remembered me and my dad. He did not know, however, that my dad had passed, and he was sad to hear the news. My mom thought this was the perfect place for us to dine, and she was excited to see what Jimmy’s face would like when seeing me, after all these years.

All this time.

Tick, tick tick.

I walked into the restaurant and saw the same man I remembered from all those years ago. While he did not recognize me, (and said he would never have known it was me on the street), he knew exactly who I was.

Though it did grey him, and add a few more wrinkles to his face, time, thankfully, did not erase those memories.

Time has the ability to give and to take away.

Time gave us these memories, but it also took away my dad, my health, and so much more.

While I’m usually not a weirdly emotionally, touchy-feely, “symbolic,” type of person, I did find it notable that Jimmy included a candle on my specially made plate.

Sushi Bar Sushi

A candle burns for as long as the wick allows.

There are variables that might extinguish the flame, like water, or air, however, the flame usually reaches the end of the wick.

We are the candle and time is the wick.

And all we can do is burn as brightly as possible, for as long as we can, until we lose our flame.

Things are always going to change, and we’re all going to get old, and I think that is what’s so scary about time. These things are going to happen and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

We might as well use the time that time allows.

Jessica Grossman
info@uncoverostomy.org
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