The Gift of Time


Ever since I can remember, I never thought I would live to see thirty years of age. I am not sure why I felt that way, but in my head, the feeling was undeniable. Even in those heady days of youth, I was never far removed from my understanding that my time was limited, and likely to be much shorter than most. Maybe it was my flippant, petulant disregard for any need to be safe. A common, but misguided, youthful mindset. Maybe it was news filled with people dying well before what many would consider their time. I am not sure what manifested this belief, but it was there, nonetheless. But it was not a fear of what may come. It was simply an acceptance that I would not decide when my time was through.

During my time in combat, I faced many a foe whose desire was to see that belief fulfilled. I had no wish to make it easy for them and every reason to see the next day. No matter how perilous the situation, I never saw it as an opportunity for self-fulfilling prophecy. So, I did everything I could to live a little longer, but always knowing that it could be that moment I foresaw in my youth. And I readily accepted whatever outcome destiny held for me in that moment, without fear. The brothers lost along the way made it even more obvious that my chosen profession rarely came with retirement. Their sacrifices, in the prime of their lives, were a constant reminder that I could well be next. A pair of dog tags, some shiny medals, and a folded flag would be my only legacy.

Now, the calendar marks the day of my birth so many years ago. Many more than I ever thought I would see. It turns out that the innate sense of leading a shortened life was without merit. And although I did little to reach such a milestone in my life, here I am. I have been denied the glorious warrior’s death I had always thought would be my demise. It has been replaced with survivor’s guilt. I can’t help but wonder what the friends I had lost in those years would have accomplished had they received the gift of so many remaining days. You start to believe that you survived by divine grace and are now required to be worthy of such a gift.

There are many things one can hang their hat on as being worthy of the time we are given. Being a good son, a trusted brother, a faithful partner, or a loving parent. Or simply a caring and connected fellow human being. But I was never those things. And it is unlikely that I can go back and be those things now. Irony has forced me to live to a ripe, old age and I am still not sure why, or if I have earned the gift given by all those extra years.

This may be the source of all my writing. Some desperate last-ditch effort to make those years worthwhile. Some chance to leave behind something more than what I have accomplished to this point. To somehow add something of value to this world before I leave. I have been blessed with such amazing people in my life and in my corner. There are so many that have touched, moved, or changed me in the most wonderful of ways. If I can be that for someone else, maybe I will not feel like fate made a foolish choice in giving me so much.


23 Responses to “The Gift of Time”
  1. Ahhh…when the dreams of the warrior, of glorious death on the battlefield confront the reality of never letting them kill you, life becomes a complete mystery that has been opened wide, lit up and revealed. Many happy returns of the day my brother and many, many more to come. The beauty you bring to the world with your words is something that enlightens us all and elevates our existence. Only beauty can redeem us. Cheers and Happy Birthday!!!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, my brother! There are likely few readers who understand this on a personal level as you do. It is a mystery I am still trying to solve. Cheers, my friend!

  2. SelmaMartin says:

    Happy birthday. And wish you many more. Xo 🎂 👏

  3. beth says:

    happiest of birthdays to you, brad. thank you for sharing this beautiful, bittersweet, and honest look into your life. i’d say that you don’t need to spend the rest of your life atoning for having survived harsh circumstances where others have perished, it was not your fault that their time came and yours was yet to come. instead, spend the gift of your time, doing what you do, writing and sharing your beautiful gift, your way with words, that brings so much beauty and meaning to so many. everything else will fall into place in time. never apologize for having more time than others, that’s the thing about life, it refuses to have a clear path or pattern, the best we can do is float along and do the most good while we are here, no matter how long or short the time.

  4. Dearest and most favored brother, I am moved and blessed by the vulnerability that you have shown in these penned words. If for no other reason (and there were many reasons, I’m certain), you were left here for all of these years so that your sister could finally see in action what being a family is. I will probably never know what you faced in those darkest of times – what you saw, thought and felt – but I am seeing some of that barrier from them fall away slowly. I am proud to be your sister!

  5. Jim Borden says:

    Happy Birthday, Brad. Your words are a beautiful reflection on your life, and like Beth, I believe you have been given the gift of words, and along with it, the opportunity to help people do their own bit of reflection. While I don’t know your family, based on the comments your sister leaves for you, it seems that you have indeed been a trusted brother…

    Hopefully, you get to go for a nice ride today!

  6. mistermuse says:

    For what they’re worth, may I give two quotes to think about on your birthday:

    “The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life.” — William James
    “Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing well those you do hold.” –Josh Billings

  7. kristianw84 says:

    I wish I could hug you! I can’t imagine how you feel, and I wish I had the words to comfort you, but I’m not sure anything I could say would bring comfort anyway. So, let me just say this, I don’t think you have to try so hard to leave a legacy or tip the karmic scales. It is not your fault that you survived while others didn’t, but I also know that you strive to be a better man than the one you were yesterday and I admire that quality greatly! However, dear friend, you have already touched, moved, and changed someone in the most wonderful ways. I am a better woman simply for knowing you. You deserve a long life filled with beautiful things! I am lucky to know you and proud to call you my friend. Love you! ❤

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    I used to take time for granted, but with age comes respect. I don’t dwell on it, but I respect each opportunity to have a rich experience or contribute something to my little part of the world. Happy birthday, Brad!

  9. Is your birthday August 20, Brad? If so, you were born on my birthday.

  10. jonicaggiano says:

    A big belated Birthday to you Brad. This is a lovely tribute to your brothers in arms too. I never thought I would live to be very old either, God has let me live much longer than I thought I ever would. I am glad you are here, the world is a better place with you in it, of this I feel certain.

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