Yes. I know. I have a funny thing about time. And dates. I take time to reflect on time and what time is, or might be.
Linear? Circular? Fluid? Fixed? Conceptual? Real? Polychronic? Monochronic? Measurable? Full of meaning and emotion? Or void of emotion and meaning?
Time takes on such a different meaning, a different feel, post-loss.
People say “Time stops”. I don’t think that’s true. I think “Time hangs, and grows pregnant, fit to burst”.
People say, “Time heals”. I don’t think that’s true either. I think healing is a choice, and you can heal from day one. Or even before. But it’s a choice.
People say, “In time you will just remember the sweet stuff”. That may be, over a long long long time, but not within 5 months, or 2.5 years, or even 3.5 or 4+ years. Yes – perhaps the sweet memories can start to outweigh the hard memories, but again there’s a massive element of choice, of intentionality, at play. It takes no effort at all for me to remember the hard stuff, if I choose to. And it takes no effort at all for me to remember the good stuff, if I choose to. If I am in a funk, only the crappy stuff comes. And if I am in a good space, more good stuff comes. It all hurts though. It’s either sweeter, or more poignant. Both hurt.
People also say, “It will get better”. I ask back, “What is the ‘it?’” My body’s aching? My fragile, hurting, bashed up heart? My quality of sleep? My engagement with life? My incessant fear about having another child die before I do? My roller-coaster emotions? What exactly gets better?
It’s all such hollow talk. Such shallow reflections. And totally useless. An abhorrent waste of time.
Here are some deeper – to me – reflections about time, post-loss.
Today as I type this it is my fourth Birthday as a widow. Since Mike died I have never celebrated my birthday and felt authentically happy. I have always deeply felt his absence and my birthday has been difficult at best. Really, birthdays have never been a big deal to me - even when Mike was alive. And, I have to admit, he only lived to celebrate one birthday with me. One. *Sigh.
I have lived most of my life absent from Mike so why does the lack of his presence still weigh on me four birthdays later? Well, because it does. Mike was my Heart, my Soul, my Love. And, a big love like ours can not be measured in time. A love like ours does not know time, nor space. It is bigger than these constructs.
As Mike's widow, I have not looked forward my birthday because it just served to pronounce his absence. But, this birthday was different. For no particular reason my grief was lighter. It was a gift. Today, I celebrated my day. I accepted and recognized that I did not die. My life has not ended, only Mike's did. And, of course I wish he was here celebrating me today. But, wishes do not change reality. Mike died. He is not here today. And, he will not be here tomorrow or any other day.
Last year I could barely walk through the grocery store during the holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and the thought of even buying ingredients was too much. This year, I told myself that it wasn’t right to stop celebrating. Tin wouldn’t want that at all. So I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a rock in my throat and grabbed a turkey. My eyes welled up and I told myself to go checkout. I had to go to the store three separate times to buy what I needed because I would hit a breaking point each time. Seasonings, cider, wine, apple pie, butter – God did Tin love butter. Those tears started in the dairy aisle and I had to go check out.