I believe I've written about this before, especially since I see I have a tag labeled "Kairos vs Chronos," but the topic has come up again at work over the last few weeks. Illness and death are devastating at any time, particularly poignant over a holiday. A car accident with traumatic brain injury and death on Thanksgiving takes on more baggage than had it been on a Thursday evening in the middle of August. Forever in the minds of those that remember, that death will be associated with Thanksgiving and grief will add another layer to the day. But really, don't we still associate the major events of our lives by the calendar divisions we've imposed on time? And, won't grief have a place at the table on Thanksgiving no matter when the accident occurred?
My daughter was born a week before Halloween. My mother-in-law died the Sunday before Mother's Day, my brother on Memorial Day weekend. We use holiday celebratory events as markers to divide the long, rolling expanse of time into bite-size morsels in order to make sense of it in our human sized brains.
We presently have a patient in our unit, an older gentleman, who while tinkering in the garage workshop he loved had the worst headache of his life preceding a large bleed in his brain and has profound damage to all the areas that allow him to interact with the world. The family agrees he would not want to live like this, nor would he want to be sustained in the shell of his body in a nursing home. They agree on hospice care. What they cannot do is to turn the case over to hospice due first to the new year, then a family member's birthday and not wanting Grandpa's death to taint the memory of those days.
The definition I found of Kairos is "a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens." Coming from the perspective of Catholic school education I understand it to be God's time. I see it in my mind as the road you see running alongside the expressway, parallel, but never intersecting, its inhabitants moving at at separate speed to a separate destination yet both roads in full view of one another.
I remain amazed that we as humans feel we really have any control over time other than making marks with colored pens in black outlined boxes on the surface of a calendar. And yet, we do. It's a bit like putting a fence up in the desert, but it does keep us busy sweeping.