It was December of 1989 and I was eight years old. My Christmas wish list was full of toys and books and one item I wanted more than anything else…an alarm clock. I remember specifically asking my mom for “a clock that lights up in the middle of the night.”
On Christmas morning, I ran downstairs and tore through all of my presents. I got a Teddy Ruxpin and a Snoopy Snow Cone machine, two of the all-time greatest toys ever invented! And, I got a Spartus alarm clock with lime green numbers which displayed brightly day and night. I felt a little older that day having my very own alarm clock. I could not be more thrilled to own that clock and told my mom how thankful I was. Unfortunately, I would only have one more Christmas with my mom before she took her own life.
As the months went on, the Snoopy Snow Cone machine became less and less exciting and Teddy Ruxpin’s stories were old and not near as intriguing. As with all toys, they began to collect dust in the corner. That clock though was always next to my bed. When my mom passed away, we were quick to get rid of most of her possessions and I wasn’t left with much that reminded me of her. We moved houses immediately and as we packed boxes, pictures of my mom came down from the walls and were never hung up again. We moved on. We weren’t healing, but we were moving on. Maybe I should say we were ignoring it. That seems a little more accurate.
That alarm clock was stable and reliable as could be. It woke me up for school each morning, early morning basketball practice, the SAT’s, college classes, my first job, and my wedding day. It was the clock that told me when it was time to head to the hospital to deliver all of my children. It woke me up for all of the life milestones my mom missed. That clock has moved with me to California, Missouri, Texas, and even England. That Spartus lime green clock has been with me through thick and thin, illuminating all of my sleepless nights as my anxious thoughts kept me awake minute after minute, hour after hour. That clock has been there through it all. A staple on my bedside table for nearly 30 years.
Last month, I noticed my clock was really fast. Eleven minutes too fast. “How did that happen?” I changed it to the correct time and 24 hours later, I noticed it was 12 minutes fast. “That’s odd”, I thought. “I swear I set it right yesterday.” I changed it back and on the 3rd day, it was 13 minutes fast. It was getting faster every day. My clock was malfunctioning. I looked online to see if I could fix it or send it to Spartus for repairs. Unfortunately, Spartus has not been a company for the past couple of decades. My clock was dying.
Surprisingly, my clock dying impacted me more than I would have imagined. For two days straight I was so sad and even nauseous at the thought of my clock being at the end of its life. I knew the clock was the only possession I have that my mom gave me. The only possession I own that she once also touched. That’s it! I have nothing else from her. And now, it is dead! I honestly mourned this loss like another piece of my mom had died. With subtle tears in my eyes, I went to the store and bought a new battery-operated clock. It was blue and had cool new 2018 features. I took it home, set the time and placed it on my nightstand. Unsure of what to do with my old clock, I wrapped the cord around it and set it my closet…just in case I come across someone who can fix my prized 1989 Spartus lime green alarm clock.
Grief is like that. Sometimes, out of nowhere, your alarm clock dies and brings a whole new wave of grief you didn’t even know was in you. Sometimes you find yourself tearing up in Target as you pick out an alarm clock because, for some reason, you pictured your first alarm clock would be your ONLY clock. But life doesn’t always work out the way we hoped it would.