There comes a time when one realizes with certainty that there is a timer on life. I can’t tell you exactly when you’ll start to hear it ticking but be grateful when you do.

We all come face to face with our mortality. My brother died at a relatively young age from a terminal illness. Like many, he bravely accepted his limited time. John knew what he wanted to do in the months remaining of his life. He was an engineer with a list of everything. John worked hard to complete his tasks and leave this earth to see what was happening on around the bend.

The longer we live, we slowly come to accept that we all have a list to complete, people we need to see, and things we need to say.

Dan recently suffered a heart attack. Richie is recovering from cancer. Whit had a devastating fall a few years back but, thankfully, survived. Patsy passed away before our last reunion. All these great folks graduated with me from high school over 50 years ago.

I could keep telling you about friends who barely survived an illness or an accident and those that did not, but the pages are just not long enough. The older we become, the more we notice the timer as it clicks closer to zero.

Now, that all sounds dour and full of doom, right? Well, maybe, it is all in how we look at it.

I like the timer. I am glad I see it, hear it, and realize that I need to live fully in the seconds that pass.

When I was in high school with Dan, Rich, Whit and Patsy, I never saw the life clock. Time was infinite in my mind. When several friends sadly died early in life, I would pause and ponder my mortality. Then life would return to the busy mode, and the sound of the ticking clock would fade away.

As time passes, the more we long to see the precious people who have taken up time in our lives. There is an intense desire to share with those we love the depth of that love and how important it is to us.

The seasons of our lives bring changes. I wish I could spend more time with my children now that I have a bit more freedom to do so. However, they are in the busy season of life. Their timers are hidden somewhere under the clutter in their kitchens. They cannot hear the ticking because of the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. I understand because I was once in that season.

I now understand my mother when she repeatedly asks, “Are you coming over today?” It was her longing to spend more time with her daughter because there was no longer clutter in her kitchen, and she could hear the clock’s sweeping hands.

My brother yearned to find his buddies from school, lost cousins, shipmates from his destroyer in Viet Nam, and to spend his last days seeing the faces of his family.

When my son lay on a gurney with a broken neck, he held my hand and urgently told me his wishes as he quickly orated a will. He saw the clock as the second hand moved at a rapid pace. Thankfully, God intervened and gave Corey more time.

Life itself is a rapid movement. We often take it and the folks who are a part of our lives for granted. As we age, we face the quantity of time we have left; we realize how valuable each second, each day, each person, each breath is.

I recall, as if yesterday, watching Dan laugh heartily at a joke at lunch. I know it was only last week when Richie got me tickled in Latin class. Wasn’t it just the other day that Whit was snickering about something crazy I did — again?! Did I not recently see Patsy carrying her books and smiling at me as she strolled into class?

Isn’t it today that I find those folks and my memories of them even more precious?

Yes, I am happy to hear the timer. I understand the noises that are important in life. I joyfully listen to the laughter of a child. I hear God’s whispers more often and see fortune as a miracle and a coincidence as divine.

Yes, I need to check the time, complete my list, hug those I love with passion, and do so before I continue my journey on around the bend.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She is on vacation this week and this is one of the columns from her book. She can be reached at

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