Sunday, June 26, 2016

366 Project - Day 178 - "The Last Watch"

June 26, 2016 - "The Last Watch"

Hidden within this little red pouch is "The Last Watch"...

... or, to put it another way "His Last Watch"...

... or, to just come out and say it: The last watch my brother ever wore... the one he was wearing when he...

... well...

... I guess I can't really bring myself to just come out and say it.

This watch has remained in the bag the hospital put all of his jewelry in that night... and it hasn't come out of that bag until very, very recently.

Because watches meant so much to him... because he had so many of them and made it a point to choose a different one to wear each day... I felt this strong need to find out what watch it was that he chose that day - and whether or not it's the watch I've seen him wearing in my mind, even though I never knew or saw which watch it had been.

Well... I was sent a photo of it, and it's exactly the watch I've been seeing in my mind... even though it's one I've never seen before - on or off of his wrist.

Then I felt a very strong "need" to see it in person and to be able to hold it, even if only for a moment. Yesterday my amazingly wonderful sister-in-law handed me the pouch with the watch inside... and told me that I could hold on to it and then give it back to her when I see her next. I couldn't even bring myself to look inside the pouch until today, after Mass, while I was in the Adoration Chapel serving my Holy Hour.

I sat at the very back of the chapel... slowly reached into the pouch, felt the coldness of the stainless steel band... slowly removed it from the pouch while my eyes remained closed. Then, after a few moments, I looked down at my hands... and broke down inside. I sat and held it for quite a long time... staring at it... "feeling" it.

As I looked at it I realized that, of all of the watches he owned that I have ever seen - and I've seen 99% of them - this particular watch was second in quality to only one other... and that particular watch was in need of a battery at that time, so he could not have chosen that one that day. So - essentially - that meant that the watch he chose to wear that day happened to be the very best of all of the watches he owned that were actually running and usable at the time... and THAT made me smile, because it's very "him".

But then I noticed something else... the second-hand was not moving... the watch had stopped running. At some point since that night almost 15 months ago, the battery had died. Noticing that made me feel sad for a moment... made my heart sink a bit... but then a thought came to my mind: His time with the watch was done. He did not need its second-hand to be ticking anymore... yet just the knowledge that a new battery could be put into it at any point and bring it back to a "new" life, made me smile.

For now, however, it will remain stopped. It might be many years before it needs to tick again. The watch has been slipped back into the protection of that little pouch... and is ready to go back to my sister-in-law to treasure.

People often ask me what my obsession is with watches. Most people make the assumption that my interest in them was a result of losing my brother, just because everyone knew that he collected them and made it a point to wear a different one every day. The truth is that I already had my own collection of watches before he passed... I had just stopped wearing them, because I had become one of those people who became too attached to their iPhone and finding out the time was just one press of a button away. Losing my brother did spark the return of my obsession with them, however. I own far more watches than he did. In fact, I now own the very watch case that housed his collection - but my collection spills over into two other cases as well. Every day I make it a point to wear a different watch... and every day whatever watch I choose to wear that day is chosen for a reason - and that reason never has to do with "which one is going to go best with my shirt" or anything like that. Each watch I own has a meaning and a story behind it. Each one has an association attached to it.

Recently I gave my daughter a watch as a graduation present... and the following is what I wrote to explain to her my obsession with watches...

"It all comes down to "time". Somehow my collecting watches makes me feel as if I'm collecting "time". It makes me feel as if I have some sort of control over something that, deep down inside, I know I do not have any control over at all. Every day I choose which watch to wear based on my mood and, very often, what the meaning of that particular watch is for me. It becomes a symbol to me... a reminder of just how short our time on this earth really is. I see the second-hand ticking away, and I realize that time IS passing... and I do not know when that second hand will stop. Time is passing. Life is passing.

One very important thing I've learned over the last year or so is that every second of every day is a gift from God. Every second is meaningful. We do not know how many seconds we have left... so we need to be grateful for each and every second we are given. Time flies by so fast. Too fast. We need to live each second of our lives to the fullest.

So I guess the answer to the question about my obsession with watches is that, as grim as it may sound, my watches remind me that my time here is limited... that I do not know when my time might run out... and that I need to make the most of it while I can."

On the face of the watch I gave her, I put a little Post-It note as a reminder. It said "Make Every Second Count!".

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