Time After Time

Who does the math? Who carries the ones and checks the equations? What is happening with the calculus here?

Increasingly, I find I am confused by the sums of our time and how much is allotted to each of us. My biological father died at 28. A father, a lawyer, a husband, a friend. Twenty-eight. I can’t even really remember 28. Ironically, I’d just survived a crash of my own. “There’s no reason you should still be alive,” the emergency room doctor said. Yet I was. There I was. And in time I turned 29, and 32, and 47, and now, soon, 52. I’m not quite following the numbers here.

My husband died at 49. A scholar, a gentleman farmer, a partner, a friend. Forty-nine. And I very nearly died again. “Can one actually perish of a broken heart?” I whispered to myself. But there I was. And in time my sums came to be larger than his were, too. Plus one, and one, and one again.

My parents are in their 70s, still going strong. My grandmothers pushed into their 80s, some combination of gumption and, maybe, a touch of spite. And one great-grandfather—who must have been a stubborn fellow, indeed, for having got there without doctor’s orders or even downing an aspirin—very nearly got his sums to the triple digits. Is there multiplication involved here? Some variant of the quadratic equation, or a digit to the power-of-something-or-other? Will I eventually catch up? Will I somehow end up on the far side of the > symbol yet again? Who enters the total of 28, or 49, or 100?

It’s been four years since Michael went still right before my eyes. It’s been seconds. It’s been a lifetime. It’s the blink of an eye and geological time, all at once. What is the calculation for the eternal now?

Can somebody please check my math?