A painting of a stained glass window.

GriefSPEAK: May we all have just a little more time – Mari Nardolillo Dias

by Mari Nardolillo Dias, contributing writer

Travis prayed for more time, as did his family. A fifty-something year old man, vital, athletic and very religious had a backache that he attributed to an overabundance of tennis and golf. He visited an orthopedist, expecting to have a CAT scan and a referral to physical therapy. He worked out in his mind how he could fit PT sessions twice a week around his busy schedule.

Travis was not anxious awaiting the results; in fact, he and his wife Rochelle were dining at Mare Rooftop in Providence when he felt his cell vibrate. He sipped his glass of Reserve Barolo wine as they waited for their order of oysters carbonara and deciding whether to allow the phone call to interrupt their evening.  

He didn’t recognize the number. Rochelle encouraged him to answer. The news was not good. In fact, it was terminal. Both the news and the diagnosis. Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. That was 10 months ago. Travis has dwindled in size and hope, but continues to pray. Pray for a little more time. He didn’t ask for a specific amount of time. Just time. He saw every day as a gift. Rochelle had mixed feelings. She experienced anticipatory grief while serving as a caretaker for Travis. 

Travis held tightly onto whatever life he had left. His dark humor tagged along with him as Rochelle dressed him as the grim reaper for Halloween. Fall is Travis’s favorite season. He loved the crunch of the leaves under his feet, kicking them until they resulted in a small hill. Now the leaves made a different sound, a version of a crunch as Rochelle pushed him in his wheelchair. He marveled at the smells and the colors as if seeing them for the first time.

He knew he was very close to it being the last. It was the first week of November that hospice prepared both Travis and Rochelle. The time was nearing. Very close. Travis had stopped eating and barely drank sips of water. On Saturday, November 6, Travis began the end of his journey. Still praying for more time. Just a little. 

Travis’s prayers were answered. He was given an extra hour, more than he had hoped for as he watched the clocks turn back for daylight savings time. He passed on Monday, November 7 at 6am, having lived a 25-hour day. What did you do with your extra hour? 


To read more articles for RINewsToday by Mari Nardolillo Dias, go here:

Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.

She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to:

Dias is the author of GriefSPEAK, Vols. I and II.


  1. Mari Dias on November 13, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Elaine!
    I remember you! Thank you so much for your kind words. I oftentimes feel as if I am writing in a vacuum and wondering if anyone is reading, so your comment is extremely motivating! I’m still at JWU.
    With regards to dad, yes. Some cancers are very sneaky, like pancreatic and the devastation is fueld and exponentially increased by the suddeness, the unexpectedness of a terminal diagnosis from a “sore back”. It is certainly surreal.
    Thank you again for commenting.
    Be Well,

  2. Elaine Marcil Day on November 11, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    Your article was thought provoking. Makes people stop and think: what would I do to enjoy more time??!!
    My Dad was given the same cancer diagnosis Terminal, inoperable and had
    4 months to live due to a tumor. Thought he had a backache!! He was an active, hardworking wonderful husband and Dad. We were devastated! As he was!!
    We need to all “Stop and smell the roses”
    Thank you for your wonderful article!!
    Elaine Day
    JWU Professor (retired)