Sharing Our Stories: Time

contributed by Chelsea Marcott

I thought I would have more time... 

Even when Art called to tell me that you had chest pain and had collapsed and they were taking you to the hospital in an ambulance, I didn’t even pause to think about how serious that was. I quickly began to pack a bag so we could get into the car and come be with you. In those minutes racing around the house, I cursed you under my breath for not going into to the doctor earlier that week when you weren’t feeling well. I began planning the stern words I would say when I would scold you, the nurse, for not taking better care of yourself. But as the minutes ticked on and I didn’t get a call back from Art panic began to rise in my chest, worry and uncertainty crept in.

I called Art and impatiently waited for him to answer. The phone rang for an eternity and went to voicemail. I told myself that he was probably busy comforting you or you both were talking to the doctor about what test they would run next. I waited a few minutes and called again. No answer. Worry and fear crept in, but I held out hope, praying silent prayers as we began to load the car with our duffel bags and get the dogs ready for the 5 hour trip to your house.

Just then my phone rang. My heart skipped and I hesitantly answered. Whatever shred of hope I was holding onto slipped away quickly when I heard the catch in Art’s voice as he began to tell me he was so sorry and sobbed into the phone that you were gone. I don’t remember what I said as I hung up the phone. The next thing I remember was Ross, my husband, picking me up from our driveway sobbing as he helped me back into our house.

As quickly as I broke, I pulled this quiet strength from a place that I didn’t know existed. More likely, my brain just numbed itself to protect me from reality, from the overwhelming grief sadness that you can never fully prepare yourself for. I began calling the people that loved you to break their hearts. I made my shocked husband get into the car and drive us to your house because for some unfathomable reason I believed I would know just what to do if I was at your house, closer to you and your things.

The next week was a blur. I began sorting through the earthly remains of your life searching for the answers to impossible questions, trying to plan your funeral, hoping that it would honor you the way that you deserved and live up to everyone else’s expectations. I distracted myself with the busyness of cleaning out your house, avoiding my grief over your unexpected loss by doing things, being busy. But grief crept through in the quiet. I cried myself to sleep for weeks overwhelmed by regret with one central theme, I thought I would have more time.

In my mind, I over-analyzed the decisions I had made over the last several years wishing desperately that God would give me a second chance, a re-do, the opportunity to do things differently. I longed to hear your voice again or have one more hug. I wished that I had prioritized spending more time with you while you were here instead of focusing on building a career and getting my MBA. I wished I had picked up the phone more and told you more often that I loved you. I wished for the chance to roll my eyes at you as you bragged about me, in front of me to anyone who would listen.

You were always the person that I took for granted because you were always right there when I needed you. It’s been three years since I lost you and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Your unexpected loss brought so much sorrow, but as my dear friend Christine has helped me to realize, there are also lessons in your loss. I’ve learned how to better prioritize my work and family. I’ve always known that I have a pretty amazing husband, but your loss was truly the most difficult thing we’ve experienced as a couple and we walked through that hand in hand and came out stronger. By leaning into Him to survive my grief, I’ve reconnected to my faith and have finally found a church that fills my spirit and feels like home. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully move past the regrets I feel around your loss, but I can learn from it. I can move forward and live my life knowing that there’s never enough time with those you love and just make time for them now while I’m able. Love you forever, Momma.

In loving memory of Beth Ann Dellabella. August 13, 1957 to October 18, 2014