This is the speech I would have given at my aunt’s funeral, had I been in any position to stand or say words.
Some many months ago- too many as it tends to go- I found myself at my aunt’s house for an impromptu sleepover. I don’t know how it fell into place, if she invited me or if I invited myself, but I know at the end of the day, I was grabbing an overnight bag and making the trek to her cozy house outside the city.
It was normal. I sat in my favorite chair. She warmed me up some leftovers of something she’d cooked because you couldn’t come to her house and not eat. I can’t remember what it was, but because she cooked it I know it was good. We drank wine. We laughed and we talked and watched movies until the wee hours of the morning when we could both barely see straight. We talked about nothing. Except when we talked about everything.
At some point we started talking about my oft-neglected love life, with her probing into my penchant for remaining aloof and unaffected without it feeling intrusive.
“Well, are you looking?”
“Not really,” I responded, sipping my wine. “If I’m being honest, I’m not even trying.”
She chuckled at me then, and to this day I don’t know if she was laughing at my admission or trying to understand how I should be so casual about something she’d craved her whole life.
“Well, what are you so afraid of?”
“I don’t even know if it’s afraid, Tee Dede. I just… I wanna do things. I wanna build an amazing career. I wanna see the world. And I just don’t know how to let someone in my life in such a way that doesn’t require me to make accommodations for them that won’t eventually make me miserable.”
“Does it have to make you miserable?”
“I don’t think so. But I haven’t found that yet.”
“But you’re not trying.”
“So, how do you know?”
“Wouldn’t I know?”
She sat with that a minute, turning it over in her mind, her face working the way that it did when she was about to say something I needed to remember. I put down my wine glass.
“Let me tell you what I know,” she told me earnestly. “You have time because you’re young. But you don’t have as much time as you think you do. I want you to do whatever makes you happy, and not rush. But it happens so fast, baby, this living. So fast. You have time. But not as much as you think. So, don’t keep finding reasons to waste it.”
When we lost her, I remember sitting at her bedside, those very words ringing in my ears.
You have time. But not as much as you think.
I looked over at her usually kind face cold and unsmiling forever, and my eyes tingled like I might cry again, but I was so dehydrated that nothing would come. How right she had been. I-and SHE- had so much more life to live that I thought we’d have each other for. I’d always thought we’d have so much time. We should have had more time. But we didn’t have as much as I thought.
And so I leave you with this; Your life is happening now. That which is meant for you will come to you, because it is the way of the universe to move in concert to bring you that which is yours. The universe is moving for you. And your living happens not in your rushing, in your moving blindly through milestones, but in allowing what is meant for you to come to you. You have time to live your life. To follow your impossible dreams. To see the world. To make amends. To learn. To love. You have time.
But not as much time as you think.