09/13/2012 02:52 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2012


My watch stopped working about a month ago, maybe longer. Has time stood still? Is it some strange sign that the watch I have worn for well over a decade has stopped working entirely, right at the same time my very life has been at risk? Does it mean that somehow my watch has slowed to a stop to allow me to heal? Or does it mean that time has stopped because I am sick and can no longer move forward? I don't believe that second one. I am not sick, not really. We all have cells that have potential for illness. The cells that created those two lumps have been removed.

Perhaps time has stopped so that I can learn to slow down. I can let myself heal without worry of time. Yes, that is it. My universe is not concerned with exacting deadlines. Not so much. Not now. My body, my living, breathing body, with all of its intricate detail, needs every minute of every day to heal. In 10 days, my body will be assaulted by brilliant surgeons who will take me apart and put me back together, reconstructing what nature made. And then I will heal again. I will not need a watch. The minutes will turn into hours, the hours into days, the days into weeks, until finally, I will have this last, excruciating step behind me. Unless I need radiation. Then I'll need more minutes, more hours, more days. Perhaps time has stopped because my watch is not capable of handling this one. It is bigger than one calendar day. It is bigger than one appointment to the next. My watch on my wrist was overpowered by the forces of the universe that brought me to these days. No need to keep track of time. Useless. Like when I would go on trips with my dad and we would take off our watches -- vacation wasn't about keeping track of time. Now, the universe has given me this sign that I should not track time the way I normally would.

But I feel naked without the watch on my wrist. Even though I keep track of time on my phone or computer or microwave at home, my watch has been my definitive guide. When I leave the house I feel the empty space where my watch should be. I feel as though I am dangling over some unknown space. And that is exactly what I am doing. This unknown space 10 days before a major surgery unlike anything I have ever experienced before. This space between cancer and hopeful cure. This space between hair loss and hair regrowth. This space between devastation of the awful news and the journey back to the joy of being alive. My watch knows. It quit on me to tell me to never mind the minutes, the hours, the days. To look beyond those measures. To value the bigger picture -- the magnitude of saving my life. The enormity of so many minutes, hours and days that will be added to my life, thanks to my doctors, and my husband who has so much patience, no time keeper could possible measure. It is so big my watch could not handle it.

The truth is the battery had repeatedly failed the last couple of years. But isn't that interesting. The oncologist said the tumors were brewing the last 2-3 years leading to the point of detection. My watch knew. My watch had reliably told me where I was in my day for so many years, until recently when the battery kept failing, trying to tell me to stop, to listen, to watch, to feel. But I didn't know.

I looked at watches at a store the other day. The emptiness of no watch on my wrist has felt almost like an unfinished story, opportunity missed, a void. So I gave into the feeling and enjoyed looking at sparkling new watches. Like new hope. Like a new beginning. So many styles. I saw some I liked. I was going to ask to see some but the one sales person around got busy with another customer and I realized it wasn't time yet. It wasn't time to pay attention to time. The customer was taking quite a while and I did hang around hoping he'd finish up. But time told me to wait. To let it go. To not concern myself with the minutes, the hours, the days. That my life now, this journey I have been on, this experience, is bigger than time. Bigger than a day. That I must learn to measure by faith. By feeling. By gratitude. By the waves inside of me that flow until the tears come out.

When I have healed from this place, I will buy a new watch. A new device to keep track of my new time. My second chance. My new measure of my life. I had the same watch for over a decade. A lovely Bulova that went with everything. It sits now, on my desk, motionless. Still. Waiting. Waiting for me to say goodbye to the old time. I re-set the time the other day to see how long it would run. It ticked for about ½ hour and stopped again. When I inquired at the watch store when it had first failed, they said it would cost $95 to repair. So it wasn't worth fixing. But I am. I am worth fixing. My watch served me well for many years. he truth is, in the last five years I haven't been able to see the tiny calendar date number. I can explore a new style, a new measure of time. My new watch and I will hopefully be together for a very long time. That is my goal. For now, time doesn't own me and I am free to ride the wave. To let go of conventional time and find direction from within. The sun guides me every day. I don't need a watch to tell me that I am alive.

Night time is the hardest. I am afraid of letting go as the sky darkens. I am afraid of going to sleep. I am afraid of letting time slip away. My eyes get weary though, and soon I fall away. With the help of homeopathic sleep aids, I get rest. Sure enough, the sun rises again. And here I am. Without my watch. Without the ticking. Without the mark on my wrist that has propelled me forward for so many years.

My new watch will be a new mark in time. The next chapter. The minutes, the hours, the days, of the next parts of my story.