US Catholic Faith in Real Life

For whom the clock changes

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By guest blogger Lisa Calderone-Stewart

I just finished changing all my clocks, remembering my dad who explained how we spring forward and fall backward.

In 2008 my mom asked if I noticed the “clock changing” dates that year. I hadn’t, so I grabbed my calendar. March 9: Dad’s birthday. November 2: Mom’s birthday. I immediately got chills.

She wondered out loud, “Do you think that’s significant?” I wondered back, “Maybe there’s something significant about this passage of time.”

It was the last time she ever changed clocks. Mom entered a hospice the following February; she died in September.

I thought of Mom as I turned my clocks back last November. I was certain, like her, I wouldn’t be turning them forward in March.

This morning, I heard her voice asking me, “Do you think that’s significant?”

I do. Last November began my personal turning back. I spent as much time as possible writing and reflecting. I saw many friends, some who came from several states (even Canada!) to see me one last time. All my brothers and their families have traveled to Wisconsin to visit.

I poured myself into remembering the past, cherishing our relationships, giving away items from my home that were symbolic of our history together. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done -- such a joy to show people you love them.

My family expected to start taking care of me by late February, and yet I’m still living on my own. I’ve had all this bonus time to say “thank you” and “I love you” and “This is what you’ve meant to me.”

I wonder if now is the time to start focusing on my going forward, into the more difficult part of dying.

I call this the "honeymoon stage of dying." Once I stopped treatments and had finally recovered from my last chemo-embolization, my pain and discomfort has been minor. Fatigue has been the main symptom. Since turning the clocks back last November, I’ve been treated like a celebrity. Cards, letters, emails, visits -- you’d think I was the queen of England with all the attention I’ve been getting. It’s almost embarrassing.

So far, this dying thing has been one of the most wonderful parts of living.

Yet I was reminded this morning that soon it will be time to spring forward. Soon and very soon I will become more tired and the pain will begin.

I will lose my independence, many of my physical functions, and almost all of my control. It won’t be pretty. It might get smelly. The honeymoon will be over.

A good friend of mine, Maureen, recently gave me a “Story People” card that said this:

“She said she usually cried at least once each day, not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.”

I often wonder if that made Jesus cry in the garden before his arrest. He knew great pain was coming, and he knew his friends would betray him. But most of all, I wonder if he had that very same insight: “This world We created is so beautiful, and I was human for only 33 years.”

His pain would end, and His friends would be forgiven, but as flawed as the world is, as problematic as we have become as a species, being human on this planet is a magnificent thing. And didn’t He know it most of all?

I know my prayer life has empowered me to fall back and reflect on my life and celebrate every cherished moment. Once I become too weary or sick to pray, I am confident that the prayers of others will empower me to spring forward to whatever comes next.

Guest blogger Lisa Calderone-Stewart is the director of Tomorrow's Present and an author and speaker on youth leadership. She was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. For more on her story, see "The dying wish of a youth ministry pioneer."



Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.