It’s 10:30pm: do you know where all your clocks are? Count them. Include digital clocks on your computers, CD or DVD players. Don’t forget cell phones. I’ve located a staggering 21 time tracking devices in our family of four! There’s no excuse for not making up for lost time or for being late for an appointment. Oh…I forget: there’s a clock in my car too. No excuses at all. One more in my husband’s Jeep. Make that 23. Twenty-three reminders that, even though my life is on hold while I heal, time keeps ticking by. A few weeks after the accident, my vestibular therapist told me that I was only at the beginning of my recovery. I refused to believe her. How long could it possibly take? A month? Six? Four years down the road I finally understand what she meant. This is an interminable process. The world is getting its busy business done and I’m trapped in limbo. I’m Odysseus’ Penelope*: I’m trying to hold on what I hold dear while voices all around and inside me demand that I speed up the pace or beg me to move on.
Penelope is not very popular these days. Feminists decry her faithfulness to her straying husband. They point at her needlework with contempt and laugh at her unnecessary steadfastness. I used to question her decisions too. Twenty years is a very long time to wait when you have no assurance that what you hope for will ever come true. Unless…
Unless you’re waiting for a beloved part of yourself that’s gone off on a mysterious journey. Sure, when that journey turns out to be a hero’s rough voyage of discovery and growth, it’s easier to turn the other way to distracting tasks or resigned suffering. But that is not what love does. When the going gets tough, tough love endures and keeps the faith. While the hero travels in search of meaning, his counterpart sits still and nurtures their healing. She keeps life’s noise at bay and remains faithful to their ideal of wholeness. She accepts things as they are but never gives up. She waits, unwavering.
The trek itself is no fun: storms of doubt and demons of false hopes abound. Some days this endless waiting drives me crazy. Sometimes it makes me cry. If it wasn’t for the sweet promise of coming home to myself I would have given up long ago. If not for my inner Penelope I would believe that my Odysseus is lost at sea. She encourages me to look at the clocks and shrug: what’s another few minutes, another day? Time cannot be lost: my body does its best and my mind is at work; my spirit is growing and my soul watches with pride. Time is my ally, really: it flies and I’m flying along. My life is not in limbo. Every tick is a witness to my will to get well. Every chime prompts me to love myself here and now while holding the picture of a better tomorrow. Time is not of the essence. Patience is. And trust. Watch me hope around the clocks. All 23 of them. Tick tock. Tick tock.
*Homer, “The Odyssey”
Maryse G. Copans © 2010