We’re Given It

Here’s the funny thing about time, for us.

We weren’t given a lot from the gate, or at least, it hadn’t seemed like it.

As a new bride, I was determined to make the most of what could perhaps be a short marriage. We packed sweaters and books into Rubbermaid bins, stuffed our pillows in trash bags. We sealed cardboard boxes marked ‘KITCHEN, OPEN FIRST.’

We drove out to Los Angeles to settle in for a life well lived.

I’d promised myself I wouldn’t bicker about the small things. I’d promised myself I’d keep things in perspective, that I’d honor the borrowed time we were given.

But somewhere in Arizona in a sun-beaten rest area, he unknowingly ate the last of my aunt’s homemade “Happy Moving Day” brownies and well, I left my bickering rule in the garbage next to the crumpled up foil, the fudge crumbs.

I’m often asked what my reaction was to Ken’s tumor diagnosis. I wrote a lot about this in my book, and the truth is simple: life has a way of distracting you from these things.

I’d fallen in love with Ken, not Ken With A Tumor, so the choice to marry him was easy. And the things that were hard were the things that were hard for all newlyweds: When will she clean her toothpaste stains in the sink? Why does he put milk in the eggs? And what? He doesn’t like mac and cheese from the blue box?!

The things that were easy were everything else.

It will be eleven years this fall. Eleven years ago, I said yes to marriage. To the time we were given. To ambiguity, to the questions, to the doubts.

To the fears.

“Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.” ―Patti Smith

I suppose then, the answer is no. I don’t often think about how much time Ken has, or how much time I have for that matter. Mostly, I’m just reminding myself to keep the toothpaste stains off the sink.

Is God round? Bee asks one night as Ken tends to the garden, as she swings in the hammock.

I think that’s a very good question, I say. What do you think?

I think, yes, she says, stretching out. But could he also be a triangle?

I think, yes, I say.

I often spend days sorting out my mind, making sense of ambiguities, generating wild, complex theories about how the world works, how life goes, how love feels.

And when I can’t tame this life, when I can’t figure it out, I question why.

Are you round, God?
Are you a triangle?
I can’t see you.
What shape am I looking for?

Mostly, I forget to be grateful.

Mostly, I forget that life is magic.

That the answers aren’t to be hunted down, aren’t meant to be found in shapes, in secrets, in adding up our years around the sun.

Are you a triangle?

In subtracting the ones we didn’t get.

We don’t get to make sense of the time we’re given.

We’re given it.

Today, that is enough.

  • A current mantra: celebrate what I HAVE, not what I lack. Cover it all with love.

    A current moment: giggles from the back seat. What’s so funny, sweetie? The whole world, momma. Giggle.


  • I’ve had some heavy things on my mind lately, like i’m sure we all do. But today i kept having the thought, that at least for today i have enough. It’s funny how just a shift in thinking, in focusing on today can bring measured peace. Thanks for the reminder again and again. I need it!

  • Oh Erin! This is real and true- the time we have is a gift and how often we forget it!!

    Last year I had to have chemo for a rare thing called a molar pregnancy- in which instead of a baby forming, a cancerous tumor forms! Horrible! But v cureable!

    ! During that time it really made me think about time and how when it looks like it’s being tainted with health issues, when you’re stuck in a sick rut , when you just are not getting better, you see the world rushing by and everything big in others lives and that were once big in your life are not big at all!

    And all that matters is health and having family and love and savoring each healthy day.

    Now that I am better, I find myself sucked back in this world of rushing and “big” things that are not so big at all.

    Reading your words unleashed all these feelings of mine! I may blog about it soon.

    I hope each day as ordinary as it may be promises you health and that God heals Ken and blesses you with long happy lives full of triangles and circles and love!

    • Oh goodness, Reem, your outlook is beyond inspiring. And yes, I hope you blog about this soon – I’d love to hear your thoughts in greater details. Sending hug, peace and great hopes for total healing your way.

  • Thank you, simply thank you for your beautiful words.
    I come back here time and time again to be reminded of something, of anything, and each time, your words seem to strike a cord in my heart.

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