How Long Is A “Moment?”

TheMomentHorizon2It’s got to be in the top three of my favorite words.  It is timeless but controlled.   Limitless but has an end.  It always has a specific beginning but you never know the end.

The worst of all “moments” is the nurse’s departing comment, “The doctor will be with you in a moment.”  “Oh good,” I say to myself as that good feeling melts into wondering if he’s reading a medical journal to hone up on my medical procedure.  I’ve already read the Pain Barometer poster and the poster of what a wonderful hospital this is and the cheesy, tranquil picture I’d never place in my home.  I’ve seen the stuff that he’s about to use on me but refuse to examine it for fear of knowing too much.

So, what’s left while lying on your back, half naked and staring up at the ceiling tiles and refusing to count them for fear of being labeled obsessive compulsive.  How many moments have passed since I was told it would be but a moment by the kind nurse who is telling the next victim (I mean patient) that “it’ll be a moment before the doctor arrives.”

Ceiling tiles provide a wonderful opportunity to examine your life and you wonder if the spinach your mother encouraged but you ignored could have avoided this visit.  “When did this all begin?” you ponder to yourself since that word moment has now become plural.  Lying there you become the waiting-for-doctor in diagnosing your own problem.  “I looked this up,” you say to yourself after reading one online article instead of the six extra years after college that the waiting-for-doctor has invested.

Your moment feels like forever when forever is something in the unknown future.  A moment with a friend feels like one second while wishing for a second or third moment more.  A moment playing with a six year old lives eternally in your mind when he asks for the car keys at 17.  The moment a 65 year marriage is ended is one that lasts the rest of your life.

You can elude, avoid and put off whatever you like and you can also savor, never forget and hold deeply within yourself those once fleeting but eternal yet temporal word, “moments.”

My dad, self-employed, cleverly put a sign on his door at lunchtime, “Back in moment.”  He had nice, long lunches.

The doctor enters the room and says, “I bet you’d rather be 100 places than here right now.”  I respond, “I bet you say that to every patient.”  He replies, “Yeah.”  Afterwards, he leaves the room by saying “Your day can only be better now, and yes I say that every time too.”

I’m okay but I had a moment with the ceiling tiles, (if I died St. Peter would ask me, “Did you see the light?”  I’d say, “No, I saw ceiling tiles and they weren’t all straight!”), my life’s recollections, my extensive medical experience, my regrets and happiness’s and my half-clothed body waiting for the moment when this moment would end.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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