172,800 Seconds

He thinks he stopped breathing when he heard he had forty-eight hours of them left. He felt fine except for some discomfort prompting his doctor visit. Tests are taken, results returned and he hears that only two of them are left for him. In seconds, it’s 172,800, in his mind they have already passed.

gty_clock_midnight_seconds_rf_jc_150519_16x9_992He’s in his early fifties, recently retired, married, luckily no children to grieve him in seventy-two hours. Funeral plans? Leave that to the misses. A Will? Didn’t consider it until life’s window now has no opportunity.

It’s like the high school retreat before receiving Confirmation when the question of “forty-eight” is raised, and each candidate gets to share their remainings before the so-mores are treated at the camp fire. Knowing full well that death at 16 is a rare event, the answers vary from ridiculous to sincere. He says, “Hiking Mount Everest,” which is laughed over until she shares that she’d write a letter to her grandmother who passed away just a year ago.

Does he not return the books to the library? (Bad joke.) Does he visit his favorite restaurant and enjoy a 20 oz. steak and leave a big tip? Does he buy his first Bible looking for a soothing verse? Her mind is silently racing because the “forty-eight” is entirely his now. Call a few friends or let them read about it in the newspaper in seventy-two?

The doctor was entirely correct for a change. It was “forty-eight,” give or take a minute. He was notified. He heard the diagnosis even it took away many, remaining seconds of his 172,800. With 172, 730 remaining, his life is weighed and summarized by whatever thoughts and actions he chose. It wasn’t a quick car accident or a lengthy hospice stay. It wasn’t in his 80’s sitting in a rocker reading his favorite book a third time, and his head falls or slumberingly meeting God.

It was merely and only two days. It’s two days when we tell friends we’d be happy to meet them for a drink and meal. It’s two days until the term paper is due, “Plenty of time!” It’s two days from the next golf game which he loved and probably had scheduled. “Scheduled.” What a peculiar word to use when two days is bluntly told to you by your trusted physician.

She has her own feelings during those two-waiting days. “These are his remaining days,” she keeps telling herself while considering the day after that.

I met him through a mutual friend several times at parties. He was fun to talk to, engaging and seemed at ease with himself. I don’t know how he spent his 172,800, but I will always remember him for having only two of them left when I think that mine of them are endless.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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.
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