Out of Time

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In the emergency room, after Miranda and I had looked at Patti’s body, a policeman handed me P’s watch in a Ziploc bag. Without thinking, I put it on. It fit perfectly. The next day I took off my watch and never wore it again. But Patti’s watch has stayed on my wrist ever since.

The watch stopped at the moment of her death, 11:20. But over the next week or so, it slowly crawled forward. Each day I would notice it was a minute or two ahead. Finally, it stopped completely, at 11:40.

Sometimes people who don’t really know me comment on it, sometimes snearingly, ‘Nice watch’.This delicate silver watch on my meaty, hairy wrist. I explain it’s my wife’s. I don’t say much more than that. I don’t really care what they think.

As far back as I can remember, I have always worn a watch, usually a waterproof one that I never need to take off, through showers and sleep. Now I ask people what time it is. Or I look around for a clock. Or I just shrug. I’m okay with being late, selfish as that can be.

I am still aware of the passage of time, but seem to be measuring it by a different rhythm. It’s less of a tick-tick-tick, time is passing relentless tattoo and more of an organic drift through the day. I look back each evening and think about what I”ve done, assess its value, wonder if this is really how I should spend what time I have left. I havent made any big decisions about that yet, but I do feel more that time is precious, that it must be savored, and that only I should decide how to mete it out.  Not even a wristwatch has that right.