525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.
-Seasons of Love
The anthem song from the brilliant musical RENT keeps rolling around in my mind. I just returned to Ascoli. I was gone three weeks but they felt like three months. Funny how the clock stops and days run together the minute you enter a hospital room. Everything seemed skewed, like I'd entered a parallel universe. All around me Washington, DC went on as normal while life as we knew it seemed to brake and warp, and made me start to wonder, how do you measure moments like this?
Time became measured in three-hour increments as we took shifts tending to my uncle Dean. We didn't want him to be alone, and someone needed to be there at all times to oversee the medical care.
Night was marked by numb fatigue. Early mornings brought clammy awakenings to the sudden rememberance of where I was and why.
Days were measured in hugs and prayers and clasped hands, among the family and the extended familial-like relationships we forged with the employees in Dean's hotel. They all wanted to touch us, to reach out to us as well as to be comforted themselves, to tell us how much Dean meant to them personally, and to have us convey their messages and kisses to him.
We measured the week in countless cups of coffee from the hospital cafeteria. In pounding heartbeats, in hopes held tightly while dismay crowded into the recesses. In the number of well-wishes extended, in meals given, in smiles bestowed.
We lost count of the days and the number of tears, which were broken by jokes to dispel the tension and funny remembrances to chase away the fears.
We made it through the weeks not by taking it one day at a time, but by forgetting what day it was and operating on a different time zone altogether. By leaning on each other, picking up the pieces when one of us fell apart and then getting enough rest to start it all over again.
My uncle Dean passed away on August 6. He had just turned 62 exactly one month before his death. According to my family's scale of longevity, he should have had at least 30 more years to live.
So how do you measure a life? In hearts touched, in spirits uplifted, in opportunities given, in lives changed, in a community bettered. In moments together, in laughter. In love bestowed. Measured in love.