The Gift of Time

It’s 3:45 AM. I just had my labs drawn. It’s the morning of my 54th birthday. AND I have been in the hospital almost 3 days.

As I’m laying here, I remember that tomorrow is the anniversary of the day I admitted to the hospital for my first lifesaving surgery. Monday, July 30, 2018 will be eight years since I had my first open heart surgery – it is the “birthday” of my heart. IMG_5807

Lots of thoughts and feelings to process as l am housed on the cardiac floor on my 54th birthday.  Just find it hard to believe that I am sitting in the hospital eight years later at the exact same time…AND happy I am able to be sitting in the hospital 8 years later…

Thoughts at the end of the day after my 54th birthday … it’s 2 AM.

It’s interesting how you can be receiving so many loving texts and Facebook wishes for your birthday and feel so blessed, yet feel all alone. I am so grateful for the love and the wishes, but I’m sitting here, feeling alone, in a hospital bed on my birthday which can cause one to do a lot of reflection.

Your TIME is the most precious gift that you can give to someone. But the gift of time requires being present, attentive, encouraging, listening and really hearing what’s being said, rather than talking about you. Yet time is the one thing that very few people give freely. When people do give time, it’s often out of obligation, rather than the desire to truly be present.

There is a saying that goes like this…

Time is the most precious gift you can give, because you only have a limited amount of time. The gift of money is not as valuable, because you can always make more money, but you cannot make more time. So any gift you give or receive of time, is a gift of life.

There are so many ways that this applies to me right now.  I received the most precious gift possible – the gift of eight more years of time. Time that I could watch my daughters grow and develop into amazing young women. Time that I could be loved by my husband and only hope to love him as well as he has loved me. Time to allow the opportunity to meet amazing women and families on this journey we call life.

Time is a gift that most of us take for granted. Time is not measured by clocks, but by the moments. TIME is PRICELESS.

Eight years ago some incredible doctors took their time and their expertise to give me the gift of More TIME. I underwent a 13 hour open heart reconstructive surgery as a result of congenital birth defect. I was told after the surgery that had the defect not been discovered I would’ve collapsed and died within 30 days. That surgery gave me the gift of life. As of Monday, that will be eight additional years of life. TIME that has been incredibly precious and dear to me.  When I think about what I would’ve missed over these eight years, it would have been the people that “make my heart”.

Little did I know at the first heart surgery that I would again receive the gift of time six years later… Two years ago.

I am grateful that my birth defect was discovered.  It gave me a second chance at life. A chance to do things better. Love harder.  I am lucky enough to have had several second chances. Between July 28 and 30th I reflect a lot on these two birthdays – the second opportunities.

Today in my reflecting, I realized that the preciousness of time can actually cause us to lose valuable time. In today’s world we are constantly multi-tasking and searching for ways to do things quickly and more efficiently. But in that efficiency, we lose connection. Rather than taking the time to call a friend or loved one and wish them happy birthday, we send a brief text… “Happy birthday! I hope you have the most wonderful of days.” We have taken a “second” of time to remember someone we cherish, yet we failed to connect, which is lost time. If we fail to make these connections as we walk through life, is time really precious?

In our quest for time, we often forget to spend time.

The way that we prove relationships are important to us is by investing time nurturing them. Words, without time, have no value. There must be effort and time. A relationship is defined as the way in which people are connected. But, if today’s world is just connection through texting or short email, without personal interaction, is it really connection? Or are they just brief words in an effort to preserve time?

I am not going to lie. I am guilty of this myself. Very guilty. I am a person that likes to pick up the phone, but I know I’ve forgotten the birthdays of friends who I love and cherish. I know I have sent birthday text messages instead of picking up the phone and calling. I know I have completely forgotten the special days of others.  I have failed to take time to send personal cards and acknowledgments that should have been sent. There are personal interactions that have been missed, that I deeply regret.

Today, as I sat all day in the hospital bed and waited for celebration calls from friends and family, many of which did not come, or texts were sent in lieu, I realized that the social media/smartphone world has caused a loss of personal interaction and connection. People don’t really communicate anymore. Or maybe we are seeking communication from people that are outside of our real world – maybe our virtual world has taken over our real world.

I am honored and humbled to have been inundated with a tremendous amount of Facebook posts and wishes, and I am very grateful, as my birthday probably would’ve totally stunk without them. But, maybe my search for support from the virtual world caused me to miss what was sitting here right beside me.

As I sat here thinking at the end of day, I recognized that it was necessary for me to be in the hospital this day in order to maintain life. To keep living life. And while it may not have been the birthday I imagined, it was another birthday that gave me life.  Although it was an uneventful step into a new year of life, I realized that there was one person that stood beside me this entire day.

A birthday banner decorated the sterile wall of the hospital room, flowers and balloons brought life and dimension, my favorite spaghetti and meatballs brought taste sensation, and cupcakes brought celebration.  He made every effort to make my birIMG_5788thday special on a day where I felt so uncelebrated because I was alone in the hospital room. But here he was, sitting right beside me for most of the day, doing everything he could to make the day more manageable. More celebratory. He is one of the main reasons why I’m grateful every day to have received the gift of time. He has stood by me every step of this journey and I know it has not been easy. I need to remember to give him the most precious gift that I have, which is the gift of my time.

As I’m wrapping up this blog, I recognize it took a path on its own, but this writing, along with the fact I’ve been in the hospital the last five days, and it was the birthday of my life and my heart, has made me remember how precious TIME is and that we need to continue to nurture relationships as if they’re brand new. If we treat every relationship like we do in the beginning, it will never end, but this requires time. Time that we often sequester, are hesitant to give, unless obligated. We do have a very limited amount of time in this world, but if we harbor the time we won’t actually be living life and connecting in our most valued relationships.

The reality is I have received the Gift of TIME, and LIFE, and have had several opportunities to hit the reset button. More chances than most.  And… Yes, it may take a 2 x 4, a steel beam, or one or two heart surgeries for me to find clarity… Time is valuable and I need live my life spending every second of Time connecting to those I hold dear. I want to make sure that every minute of time has been exhausted before I run out of life.

We are only given TODAY and never promised TOMORROW. Make sure you tell the PEOPLE who are special in your life, that you LOVE them.IMG_0948

My 54th birthday certainly was not full of any pomp and circumstance – but it was an opportunity to treasure the LIFE and the MAN I call my husband, sitting beside me, in that small room that had been decorated with LOVE, reflecting on our daughters, our family, our friends, and cherishing another birthday where I had been given….

the GIFT of TIME.

Written July 29, 2018 at 2:00 AM on the cardiac floor of Tampa General Hospital.

Copyright © 2018 Cherie Monarch. All Rights Reserved