Wristwatches & Time Passing

Friday, April 20th
Late Morning

In high school, I remember a teacher explaining to our class that she hadn’t worn a wrist watch since her mother died. My 17-year-old brain was really mystified by that. How did she know what time it was? How did she get anywhere on time? Didn’t she need to know what time it was while teaching? (Keep in mind) that I am old enough that cell phones were not widespread when I was a high schooler. I was puzzled by this statement and also by the implied to connection to her mother’s death.

But 8 years. Or 2,920 days. Or 4,204,800 minutes. These I can measure by the date on the calendar.

Zoom forward a chunk of years: April 20th, 2018. 8 years ago today and possibly about this time of day if memory serves me correctly that my brother got a call that he would receive his long-awaited double lung transplant. While that day itself was anxiously joyful, the day is now bittersweet. His transplant ultimately did not have the results we wanted.

I no longer wear a watch except maybe when running. I have a cell phone always in my pocket. But I get now what my teacher was saying to us. I live much more in the present now. I struggle often to get places on time but I care much less than I did before 2010.

So much in this life is out of our control. And the clock just keeps ticking forward. I no longer measure life by the arms of a watch as I pathologically did before. It is hard to believe that it was eight years ago and yet it also feels like a lifetime ago or at least a long chapter.

I sit here typing, thinking, and I want these thoughts and feelings to resolve or have a nice closing. But they don’t. Losing my brother is simply the hardest thing I’ve done and mostly survived in this lifetime so far. Grief is messy. Even remembering is messy. Another day, another memory, another year.



Note: I wrote this a couple months ago.  I found this in some unfinished drafts.  Two days ago—November 4th—would’ve been my brother Ryan’s 31st birthday. He continues to periodically appear in my dreams. I hope he continues to do so.  I share this in his memory.


I have dreams. Not the world-changing eloquently spoken and proclaimed to change a nation kind. Actual dreams.

I have dreams. About a dead person. Specifically, my brother. I suppose over the past
7 years since his death I’ve dreamed of him over different periods of time. The dreams are not new. Months after his death I had a few genuine nightmares. They were very vivid dream versions of some events that did happen (and I witnessed) during his hospitalization after his transplant and before he died. Those weren’t good times.

Recently, I had a few more vivid and significant dreams. Both were again related to the months he spent in the hospital post-transplant. One was pretty awful and involved a lot of anxiety, worry, and ultimately, heartbreak, which is not so far from what really happened. The other dream explored a different outcome for my brother after his transplant. He was up and walking, doing physical therapy, moving around without oxygen and better than he had in years. He was walking down the hall and talking with people. This was a happy alternate ending to what is now history.

For a long time, I dreamed of my brother mostly in scenarios that were rooted in things that previously happened. As time goes on, more often he appears in whatever crazy, mash-up world my mind has concocted during the night. We’ve taken an intensive theology course, he’s been to Chicago, we’ve mountain biked again.

These are things he never got to do post-transplant and in real life. He didn’t even make it home.

I’ve had to make sense of these dreams. For some time, I didn’t’ know what to think of them. They partially creeped me out and they also continually dredged up a fresh and sometimes raw grief around my brother’s death. I also didn’t want to sound some sort of crazy when going on about these dreams.

At this point though, I don’t mind these dreams (minus the nightmare-like ones) and sometimes am even grateful for them. This side of eternity I have no more time left with my brother. But it seems he’s still alive in the world of my dreams and imagination. I don’t have any strong opinions on dreams, their origins, and if/what can be understood or concluded from them.

I do know that sometimes, at night when I’m asleep, I get a little more time with my brother. And for that, I am grateful.

Cordless Drills & Self-care


Yesterday I was putting together my closet. Well, that’s what I call it. It’s more of a free standing clothes rack with two bars for hanging clothes. I built it two apartments ago when my bedroom at the time had no clothes storage.
I was assembling it with a new-to-me cordless drill. Having only used it once before, I had no idea how long a battery charge lasts. It went fine for a little while. And then it started fading out. It would go for a bit and then wind down or come to a stop if it met extra resistance. At some point I decided the closet would be more easily assembled and I would be less frustrated if I charged the battery up a bit.

And in an aha-moment, I thought to myself, “Oh. Right. Ministry (and other caring-based professions) without self-care is like a cordless drill running on low battery: it’s just not going to go well.”
So don’t be like a drill without a charge.
And, it’s also not advisable to use a drill without a charge. That gets frustrating too.