Time – a word I’ve heard often in the last month or so. It seems to have some sort of magical connotation to it. Everyone seems to believe that it is the answer to all my problems. That time will magically take away the pain, bringing me comfort and joy. I reject the concept of time as a healer. Time cannot heal. The body can heal, the mind can heal, and they do as time passes. Time is a measure; time can exist in a vacuum. Events and things can and do occur through space and time, but time itself is not a catalyst for these things to occur.
Since Kevin died I have had people say to me variations of the following: ‘don’t worry, things can only get better, give it time’; ‘time heals all wounds’; ‘it happens to everyone, it gets better over time’; or the feverish out-of-control statement – ‘shows you should live each day like it’s your last.’ There are dozens of trite statements like these. When someone uses one of these lines in conversation with me, I pretty much shut down. If you don’t know what to say then don’t say anything. Friends and family, in my case, are not guilty of using these simplistic superficial expressions. It’s the coworkers and acquaintances that use these statements to bridge the awkwardness associated with death.
I’m getting quicker at the shock responses now, which is a good indicator that my tolerance levels are low. When people tell me not to worry I ask – how do you shut off, how do you do that, not worry? With respect to living each day like it’s your last, actually for the first month after Kevin’s death that’s exactly what I did – because that was what I wanted. That’s not a response that people expect and the conversation tends to end really quickly. I know that people are just trying to reach out and make a connection. Sometimes I don’t want the connection; you know you can turn the light switch on as many times as you want, if the bulb’s blown, you won’t get any light.
Recently I remembered a woman I worked with many years ago. She had been widowed at a fairly young age, mid-30s I believe, and had raised her son on her own. She would have been in her 50s when I worked with her. We would talk about everything and anything. She told me that she never forgot, that for her, her husband was a part of who she was, and she carried that knowledge with her wherever she went. A hardworking woman, she had a pale tinge of something intangible about her, and in hindsight I recognize that this was her sorrow, the loss that made her who she was. It had been a tough go for her and not how she had thought things would turn out. I wonder how often things do turn out exactly as they are supposed to? There do seem to be some families that live under a golden glow; the sun and sky, the earth and the sea nourish and protect them. They do not know how fortunate they are.
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” (Rose Kennedy)