The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom—I actually finished reading this book a few months ago. I usually read Albom in one sitting, but this book wasn’t easy for me to read. It sat staring at me from the coffee table for weeks before I finally worked up the courage to open the cover.
You see, I know what his books do to me. I find them cathartic—and in the end it’s great because I feel cleansed by my tears and so much more at peace with sad things—but the journey itself often feels like medieval torture. The concept of time is fascinating, wonderful, and terrible all in one. On this subject, I think I have a tendency to feel too much. My emotions run the gamut from awe to anguish.
So, after several stops and starts, I reached the point in the story that compelled me to finish.
This is the story of Father Time. As a man, he was first to quantify the moments that make a life…and when his wife was near death, he wanted time to stop. For both the measuring and the wanting, he was locked away in a cave, ageless, and made to hear “…every plea from every soul who desired more of the thing he had first identified, the thing that moved man further from the simple light of existence and deeper into the darkness of his own obsessions. Time.”
We think of time as a currency to spend when really every second is invaluable.
The man is given, after several centuries, a task to return to Earth. He is to find and help two souls: one who wants too much time and one who wants too little. He is to share what he has learned over the last 6,000 years. He is told that by the end of his journey he will understand why God limits man’s days.
The two souls are an outcast teenage girl and a terminally ill old man. She wants to die; he wants to cheat death.
To the girl, he teaches that time cannot be given back. “The very next moment may be an answer to your prayer.” To the man, he teaches that time cannot be taken where it is not given. “With endless time, nothing is special.” The man who became Father Time had already lived for an eternity. Only after the lessons were complete did he comprehend for himself why God limits man’s days: to make each one precious.
I spent too long wishing away my mother’s Cancer. I spent too long wishing we could reverse time so she wouldn’t be sick anymore. I spent too long wishing time would slow so that I could have more time with her. After she died, I spent too long wishing time would just stop because moving on hurt…really hurt.
How arrogant of me to think that I should have such power.
This story was strongly reminiscent of that period in my life. The pain, the loneliness, the lessons…and in the end, the understanding. Each day really is precious.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.