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My Analog Dissonance

Just in time.

Just in time, he said, or else we would never have had the chance to say goodbye.

Just in time, she said, or else watching the suffering would have been too painful.

Just in time, I think, in time, in time, it won’t hurt so much and I won’t feel as if I am dead, too.

The flowers arrive early, as does my family and a group of friends.

The funeral directors and reader I’d selected were on time.

We started late, because I didn’t want to go through with any of it, even though putting it off would have nothing to do with the dead body lying in that pristine wooden box.

Time has a funny existence. It is absolutely measurable with a clock or stopwatch. We count down the seconds to the New Year, or to a cosmic launch. We cross off days until due dates and weddings, or retirements. We can record to the millisecond how long something takes. It is precise, correct, noble, undoubted.

We come to trust the rhythmic ticks sounding from the wall. We breathe with them, fall asleep to them, expect them to do their job and be orderly little keepers of all things structurally sound.

It is one of the few things that is inarguable, solid, dependable, and universal.

Take away the timepiece, and it is one of the most relative, subjective, undetermined, personal experiences a person shall have, especially in terms of death.

There’s little time left, her time is up, his time ran out, their time has expired, time heals all wounds, give it time, take your time, all things in time, and each moment we have left defies the fundamental laws of precision. Each moment after recording the time of death, it’s an open-ended fog of waiting for the second hand to move. Sometimes we wait for hours for one tick, and sometimes an hour has gone by and we don’t know where we’ve driven or what we’ve done.

It took forever to start, and after I spoke for 15 days, I blinked and the service was over.

Driving to the grounds, roses and dirt and some more talking, and a hand on my arm to take me to eat somewhere and reminisce about the body that we’re leaving in that hole over there.

It took a moment to recognize that my sense of time had lapsed for the morning. I excused myself. It wasn’t until I heard heels clicking on tile floors that reminded me of the time before all of this happened around me, when second hands did their jobs and the hours were endless because they kept revolving around their center dial, offering new minutes and hours with every little tick.

Endless time, a commodity and a curse. A blessing and a bastard. With you, now without you.

I put the face of my wristwatch across my knuckles and punch the bathroom wall. The face shattered and the hands stopped. I shook the sting from my hand and rubbed it until I was ready to go back to the bread plates and salad forks. I placed my watch back on my wrist where it faithfully sat to tell me precisely what time it was every day.

At some point I’ll probably want a new one.

I’m sure in time the sting won’t sting.

I know I need to live the rest of this life without you.

For now I’ll wear my broken watch and glance at it when I miss the hell out of you.

A voice calls from across the room and tells me it’s time to eat.

Yeah? My watch is broken.

Oh, and I miss you.