Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Time" in relationship to surviving grief

When a person talks about an important year in his/her life, or a news show on TV asks what you were doing when...I always think of my daughter, Marcy's life.

How old was she in 1970 when I first started teaching? What were we doing then? Just a year later she started school. Years become important in your memory. The year 1966 when she was born, the most important. What was happening in the world then? Viet Nam. President Johnson. The Beatles. Twenty-five cent hamburgers. A friend says, " Do you remember when we..."What year was that?" I ask. "Oh, yes," I answer, "I remember that year."

But to myself I associate every year between 1966 and 1994 with Marcy and what she was about then. If the year is before 1966, it is "before Marcy was born." If I'm told to think of the year 1984; yes, that was an important year; Marcy was graduating from high school. And 1988, yes, that too I remember; Marcy graduated from college and was anxious to start her life in the advertising world. If the year is 1997, yes, that was an important year because I retired from teaching but not that important for me, because Marcy was already dead three years by then.

Time has a way of passing very quickly, and we lose track of it. I remember when it was the tenth anniversary of Marcy's death. I wondered how that could be. As far as I was concerned, it had all happened just, today. Today, I felt her body hugging mine as we said goodbye at the airport because, ironically, she had to go to a funeral in California. I felt her strong arms surround me and I thought, "I made this beautiful, intelligent, vivacious woman." What a wonderful life she was going to have! I could never guess it would be the last time I would ever touch her and that a week later she would be dead. Thirteen years have passed and I think of all the wonderful things she could have done with her life and her new husband of four months: children, a life-long career, traveling...she wished and hoped for so much, but it was not to be.

They say time heals. I say time only makes the grief a little softer. It will never, never go away. Time allows you to eventually move forward with your life when you begin to understand you are a survivor of the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you.

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