“Time heals all wounds” – a cliche of words coined, I’m sure, by some well-intended person as a source of comfort during a time of grief. But I call bull#@&*
Grief… deep, gut wrenching, paralyzing grief cannot be completely healed with this inevitable passing of moments in life we refer to as time. It just can’t. Often the rawness, the ache, the blistering red, burning wound eventually quiets some, but it’s almost always there. Always vulnerable of being broken open again.
I’m sitting here in a coffee shop on Mother’s Day. Which simultaneously happens to be the day 9 years ago that I got a phone call, on the way to work, that my dad had a sudden and massive heart attack.
Today is a strange day, to say the least. A part of me relishes in this role as a mom, my most fulfilling responsibility. I am hightenedly aware of how incredibly blessed I am to even have this opportunity. The other part of me is drowning in a seasonal wave of insurmountable grief. I’m trying to process the time that has passed since this day. Since the days that follow this day. The fragments of moments I can piece together, of the roller coaster of life, that flashes through those mental photos or videos in your mind.
I’m different. Broken. Pieced back together, but never the same.
I still try processing this timeline of angst, confusion, grief, self realization, strength… repeat. I’m a (slow) processor.
Within a four year period of time, I had moved jobs, become a mom… twice, lost my dad suddenly and left my husband. I know what you’re thinking – I left my husband because I was so broken after losing my dad. I was broken, shattered, but the truth is my marriage died long before my dad did.
In fact, ending that marriage was probably one of the best things that happened during that time. I had lost my dad suddenly, but I’d been losing myself gradually for many years. My kids, my boys, were what gave me purpose. But outside of them I had no idea who I was anymore. What I stood for, what I loved, what I hated, what I was willing to take or give, what comprised all of the intricate parts of me.
Losing my dad, engulfing that grief, forced me to make decisions that I had been fighting to not make. I had to choose. I did not have the mental capacity to mourn my dad’s death and my dying marriage. I chose to mourn my dad. Actually, I’m not sure it was much of a choice really.
We each have our own individualized timeline of pivotal moments in life. Moments that forever change who we are, how we respond, how we think or feel, how vulnerable we allow ourselves to be. I’m trying to remember the time between, the time that started shaping this next part of me.
That time between the phone call and his last breath…
That time between the his last breathe and his celebration of life…
That time between his marked end to leaving my husband…
That time between leaving my husband and finding a source of strength…
That time between finding strength and now…
All the beautiful, painful, simple or explosive moments that comprise what we always think starts out as a perfectly “normal” day. The days that I thought were uncharacteristically irrelevant, to the days that had me sobbing on the floor, to the days that brought me heart-bursting joy. Days woven in such a careful way that we never truly recognize them for what they are until they are in the deepest of our hindsight.
I’ve had thousands of incredibly simple and beautiful moments since that time. Moments that have flashed by and moments that have kept me still. Moments where I can’t catch my breath and moments I’m rushing to get through. Moments of gut wrenching, piercing, never think you’ll heal pain and moments I would give almost anything to relive just once more. They are each precious and purposeful in their own right… bringing healing one moment closer.
I’m still learning that there is a time for every thing.
“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
This time thing is my worst enemy and yet my closest friend.
I’m still broken. But there’s beauty there now. Beauty that rooted itself over time.
p.s. I remarried that ex-husband of mine a few years later. Beauty from ashes. But that’s a moment to share at another time.