Is it already the end of the year? I can’t believe it. It seems like yesterday that I was counting down to 2016. 

When I look back on 2016, I think of two incidents.

First, my dad got me a watch.

I have never been an accessories kind of girl. I find it annoying to put them on each morning, then take them off each night. And a watch? Why bother? I can tell the time just as well by looking at my phone.

To make things worse, my dad didn’t actually get the watch specifically for me. He’d bought it because he thought it looked pretty. He tried giving it to my mom, who refused – she already has one. He then tried offering it to my sister, who rejected it – she doesn’t wear watches either. By the time he reached my room, I didn’t have the heart to turn him down.

So there it sat on my table. And there it remained until it caught my eye again a couple of days later. It felt wasteful to leave it lying around. The hands of the watch will run, whether I wear it or not, so I might as well wear it. I sighed as I wrapped the strap around my wrist.

Time to start a new habit, I thought.

A few months later, my grandma was suddenly admitted into hospital.

The doctors suspected she was in critical condition, although they could not diagnose the problem. I remember feeling shocked when I first heard the news. I’ve always been close to my grandma and while I know that she is very old, it still hurts so badly to think about how her time on earth is coming to an end.

Confession: It was a only week later that I managed to visit my grandma in the ward. My reason? I had no time. I know how this sounds. Your grandma is in a critical condition but you can’t squeeze time out of your schedule to visit her? And you claim you love her?

The visit wasn’t the only thing I pushed to the back of my mind. I suppressed my feelings too. I didn’t have the time to think because there was always something screaming for my attention. Studies. Work. Ministry. Friendships. I constantly had to be on the ball because somebody, somewhere, is depending on me for … something. By the end of each day, I was too exhausted to do any soul-searching.

I think I was afraid to unplug myself from that grind. I felt that if I did, every other part of my life would start to fall apart as well.

When I finally visited my grandma, I realised how skinny she was. I could see the outline of her ribcage under the thin hospital gown. Why hadn’t I noticed that before?

I held her hand as we started to chat. She talked about my cousins who had visited her the day before. They’d graduated recently and had started work. I hadn’t known that. Did you attend their graduation, I asked my grandma. She shook her head slowly. She didn’t know how to get there and no one was free to drive her over.

When will you be graduating, she asked. Six more months, I replied. You must come for the graduation ceremony this time round, I said. I will make sure papa fetches you.

“Okay,” she said. “If time allows.”

I felt her grip on my hand tighten. I wiped my eyes with my spare hand.

It’s easy to let time fly by.

It’s easy to allow urgency precede importance. It’s easy to use busyness as an excuse.

Every now and then, I rest my head on my folded arms to take a quick breather, and I hear the soft ticking of my watch. And I think: How easy it is to live filled days without living a full life.

Hello, 2017. Time to be conscious of how I spend my time. I may not be able to count the hours, minutes or seconds, but I can always make them count. I have to.