I haven’t been writing much lately because basically nothing has changed over the past few weeks. The loneliness, the emptiness is still there. The rage and despair hasn’t left and the grief has not lessened. If anything, it has increased.
If I ever do mention this to anyone, and I generally don’t because why would someone want to hear the same litany over and over again, but if I ever break down and do mention it, they are almost guaranteed to say something like ‘Give it time’.
But time is a funny thing.
Becoming a widow suddenly warps time and perception. I look at the clock and see that it is 8 am, then I look again and it is 1 pm and I have done nothing but sit and stare at my keyboard. I couldn’t begin to tell you what I thought about or what I did during those five hours.
But, on the flipside, I see something that triggers a deep sorrow for the loss of my husband and I shrink into a little ball of agony. Then, each second feels like an hour and the clock never moves.
Someone once said that the length of a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on. And it is very true.
My days are full of empty gaps of hours gone in a flash and agonizingly static minutes that never pass.
I’m becoming adept at little time games. For example, I’ll be done with work and see that I still have three hours until I need to feed the four footed furry brigade. To fill those empty hours, I try to read, setting myself so many chapters or pages. Or, if I can’t settle enough to read, I watch TV. I set it on a channel that has hour long shows, like old Law and Order reruns. I tell myself that at the end of this show an hour is gone. And the next, and the next, until it is time to feed the four footed furry brigade. The mindless TV seems to soothe my brain and stop it from fretting for a while.
I find myself shying away from thinking too far into the future, because then all I would see would be endless days and months and years without my husband. Days of coming home to an empty house, days of having no one to call and say that I was on my way home, days of waking up to an empty side of the bed, days of not talking because there is no one to talk to.
Instead, I pick an event, something small, maybe not even meaningful but something different. It can’t be too far into the future, maybe just a couple of days, but I make it a milestone to get to and then find something else after that.
The trick is to fill up those slow hours with something, anything and try to pay attention during those hours when everything goes at warp speed.
See, time is not a constant. Time is nothing but an evolution of things. A changing from one state to another. As some things change quicker, time goes quicker. If some things change slower, time goes slower. It’s all relative. Albert Einstein noted that time was an illusion. A man travelling at light speed would age slower than a man not. Because at light speed, the constant change that dictates the passing of time happens at a much slower rate. So a year for him could be 100 years for the rest of us. Thus the premise for a half dozen movies about talking apes.
Time is a force. Mankind has compartmentalized it in a vain effort to contain it, but it can’t be contained. As long as anything, anywhere, changes its state from one form to another, time marches on. Time is the human cell growing older. Evolving. Time is steel rusting. Time is plants growing. Time could even be the evolution of a thought from concept to realization.
It’s perception that dictates the speed of time.
Time expands and contracts to our individual needs. Time will seem like it is flying to you, but to the rest of the world, not so much and vice versa.
Have you ever thought that hours have passed, only to look at a clock and find that it has only been minutes? Or have you thought that something was taking forever only to find that hours have gone by? When you check your watch or your phone or look at the clock to see what time it is, you are resetting yourself, resolving your own time sense to be in sync with the rest of the world. Readjusting your perceptions to a constant. A constant that really has nothing to do with time itself, but more for society to all reference the same speed so that events can be coordinated to happen at the same time.
So, if time is based on perception and each individual, then the phrase ‘Give it time’ means nothing. Because that would mean that my grief would have to evolve, change, and try and resolve itself to a conclusion.
There is no conclusion and will not be. As long as I am mentally aware that my husband is no longer with me, my grief will never conclude. It may change over the years, but I think the change will more likely be that I am becoming accustomed to it, not that it has changed in itself.
So in that aspect, that change, whether in my thinking or my grief, will experience the passing of time, but it will never go away completely.
The often incorrectly quoted “Time heals all wounds” was first ascribed to Menander, a Greek playwrite in 300 BC. The correct quote is as follows: "Time is the healer of all necessary evils." But personally, I think Menander was way off of the mark. Healing means that it resolves itself, becomes whole again. Even I know, in the beginning of this awful journey, that I will never be whole again.
So I disregard Menander and refer instead to Rose Kennedy who said, “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.”
And hopefully that will happen to me, in a manner of time.