Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time Is A Luxury We Don't Have

“[…] I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories […]”

-“I Will Remember You,” Sarah McLachlan

It’s spring, well at least technically, because if you’re in Michigan right now, it’s pretty freaking cold. But anyway, it’s spring. And with spring comes new life. No where is this more evident than in my blogging circle, as there are several bloggers who are pregnant/having babies. This is super exciting, but also gets me thinking a lot about time…

I recently read “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom. I loved “Tuesday’s With Morrie” and decided to read Albom’s other books. In “Have a Little Faith,” he talks a lot about a second death, and not being forgotten after death.

And this made me wonder. Is this one of the reasons, maybe subconsciously, that many of us blog? On the surface, most of us do it to share our stories, and to help and inspire others. But could a small part of it also be that we worry, especially if we are taken before our time, that we will be forgotten? That the trials and tribulations, and the celebrations in our lives, will end up being and meaning nothing?

Time is different for those of us who are young and chronically ill. It’s no longer such an abstract notion, like it is for many healthy people our age. It is something more concrete, staring us in the face, and sometimes, if we listen hard enough, we can hear it ticking away.

I no longer measure time as far ahead as I used to. Days of little pain count for more than single days used to count for.

Maybe it’s not so much that we don’t have time, as it is that we don’t have the pleasure of being oblivious to the ticking of the clock. Maybe my friends won’t wake up tomorrow and realize the feebleness of the body, but 30 years from now, they’ll wake up, stunned that they are no longer the picture of youth. Hair grays, skin wrinkles, muscles become soft and weak, bones become brittle and stiff.

I know I am not ageless. My illnesses prove that to me everyday. I knew that less yesterday, and I will realize it more tomorrow. And I will be reminded everyday that some systems will work better than others. And eventually, some will fail, maybe even all will fail.

It’s not so much a question of if, but rather, of when. I’m not okay, per say, with this course of events. But I have no choice. That’s the way life is. And if time stops, there is no life at all.

Or maybe it’s that I wonder what causes so many of us to broadcast our lives, often very intimate details of our lives, over the Internet, to complete strangers. Is it because, when all is said and done, we are worried about being forgotten?

I stumbled across this article, which talks specifically about young people with terminal illnesses blogging about death, and chronicling their final days. The article states that our culture is very close-lipped when talking about death, but blogging is making such conversations more acceptable.

And there are many books these days – examples include “90 Minutes In Heaven” by Don Piper, and “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” and “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom – that in both fictional and non-fictional contexts, explore the question of what happens after life ends.

I’m not interested here in getting into what I believe or don’t believe about life and death. But I am interested in how the uncertainness of time impacts who blogs and why.

Why do we feel that this is our cross to bear, while most people live with their illnesses in anonymity?

Clearly, this is not a new question or concern. But who is exploring such concepts, and how, is new. Just as Facebook profiles come to immortalize those who have died, blogs too, become living records of those who write/wrote them.

So what do I want to leave behind? Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how to live life with illness the best I can. But we all have a legacy to share. And maybe, for me, this blog is a small part of that.

So how do you want to be remembered?

And how will make sure that happens?

(This summer I have plans to start a non-profit organization that deals with similar issues as those addressed in this post. More details to follow…)


  1. I think this is a very interesting point. One of the main reasons that I started this blog was to help inform the families and friends of people suffering through lupus and similar illnesses what it's really like.

    In a sense, I guess I'm not worried that people will forget me so much as they will forget my experiences. and that includes me. between the lupus fog and the fact that memories fade or change with time, I would never be able to give as accurate account of what today was like as I can today itself.

    what we experience is important. the day to day struggles are as key a part of our illnesses as the lab tests and medications and so on. if we let people forget out experiences, it's almost like they forgot us - because without an understanding of what we're going through they can't completely understand who we are

  2. I began blogging to try and make sense out of this madness that is chronic illness. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and feelings and put them in some sort of perspective. Discovering a lively and active community of individuals with shared experiences has been a wonderful find for me, but I find myself spending very little time thinking about what comes after. I'm much more concerned with the person I am today- not sure what that says about me.

  3. This is a really thought provoking post. Thank you, Leslie.

    I meditate on impermanence each and every day. Remembering death can help us keep our priorities straight and bring more compassion into our lives since we are all in the same boat. We are all going to die, we just don't know when or where. Even if we have illness, we don't know that we will die from that illness. Even if we are well, we don't know if death will pop up this very moment or tomorrow.

    I'm not concerned about being remembered. I would just like to lead a good life and have a positive effect on as many people as I can. If something I do continues beyond this life and has a positive effect that is wonderful.

    We all have short memories! I don't expect or particularly wish to be remembered. Even if I were to be remembered, it would only be for a short time in the greater span of time.