They say that time heals all wounds. I call bullshit. Some wounds will never ache any less when you die than they did that day you received them. Time cannot and does not heal all wounds.
What time can do – does do – is make it easier to be distracted; make it easier to ignore the pain; fill your life with more joys than losses to concentrate on. Theoretically. Hopefully, if you are lucky. Until that anniversary rolls around; until that one night when it’s late and you’re tired and hungry and just so damn raw; until the losses outweigh the joys for just a minute and you let your guard down…and then the pain is right there, rolling back to the surface.
The loss of a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or child are all the types of losses that never completely heal.
Or, at least, that has been my experience.
No, not just my experience. I find this with people I minister to all the time. I remember this incredibly sweet woman from my first church – call her Mary. Mary was in her 90s and her husband, Fred, had died thirty five years ago. She had lived an entire second life as a single, independent and quite successful woman whose life was filled with joys and family. She always seemed so happy. Until you asked her about Fred. And then those deep, milky eyes would well up and the tears would come. All these years and thousands of miles later, that grief waited in the depths to swallow her whole. She was not unique.
What time did for Mary was give her an anchor for her soul and a line with which to find her way home. The grief would swallow her but the years of experiences and joys and memories would show her the steps back up from the depths and pull her back into the light and life.
It’s been five years since my dad passed. Five years since I’ve had anyone to answer my car questions; five years without anyone to truly appreciate when I vanquish an enemy the way my dad appreciated that; five years of my kids growing up to be starlight – a light that my dad didn’t get to see…and about which I’ll never get to brag. It’s been five years since I could ask my dad about being a man and a father…questions I never really got around to, in fact. I should be better, now. The pain shouldn’t still be there in the shadows, lurching and ready to pounce. Late, hungry nights shouldn’t still be a dangerous territory for my soul five years later. At least, I tell myself that.
Except I call bullshit on that, too. We heal when we heal. Except when we don’t. We all do it on our own schedule, at our own pace and sometimes the better part of healing is recognizing that some things can’t be healed. I tell this to my flock all the time. The wounded places become part of the tapestry of our life: the dark that provides contrast to the gold and silver and light. If we are lucky. Time knots a thicker and thicker line with each passing year with which I can draw myself back up from the depths. So it’s ok that sometimes I do find myself in those depths. Truthfully, if the options are the occasional darkness or forgetting how special my Dad was to me, I’ll take the darkness every time.
Five years, Dad. I can barely believe it and it breaks my heart at how fast those five years flew by. I still remember your voice but sometimes I have to concentrate to remember how you talked and how you smiled and tonight that also breaks my heart. I love you and I miss you beyond words. You were so so special and I hope you are resting and at peace now. You deserved it, even though we left behind have this person sized whole left in our hearts. Someday I hope I won’t feel the need to mark this date…
…this is not the year though.