Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Living In Between




This second of time, the one that we’re both aware of because I’m mentioning it, becomes the next second of time (or the second second, if you’re keeping track, and I’m not going to distract you with pondering why the first second isn’t called “first,” because doesn’t “second” mean that something came before it?).

Anyway, this second of time has already moved into the past, and I’m still thinking about it. When my wife died, I did the same thing like for 63 million seconds. She was breathing and smiling one second, and gone the next. Her life ended and everything she was went into the past.

After staring in the rearview mirror for two years looking at her life, looking at our life together, looking at all the dreams we had that had been yanked out at the roots, I reached a place where a second of time existed on its own again. It hovered as a free creature neither tied to what had happened nor to what was expected to happen. And I didn’t know what to do with it.

My second became more seconds, then a minute, an hour, and they all kept moving forward on their own, and I couldn’t stop them or slow them down when I remembered something about Evelyn and wanted to reflect on it. Some of you, maybe most of you, are thinking, “Well, yah. We’re always moving forward a second at a time. We don’t have any control over the movement of time.”

But grief does. Grief controls time, and when we’re grieving, time ceases to exist. Grief rearranges the universe so that we can exist in the past and be with our loved ones in a quasi state of being.

Reaching this second of freedom doesn’t make moving forward easy, even though we want to. Although now we don’t HAVE to think about grief, we still do. And as we try to move forward, we still drag our dead with us. It’s like a package deal on a cruise ship that goes from Spain to Italy to Greece but also the Maldives.

I liked the life I had and my battered heart hadn’t yet figured out what it wants to do.

This is the living in between, with a foot in both worlds. Our grief now is radically different than it was in the beginning, so much so that we wonder how we ever survived those early days. We may have been anticipating that when we reached this point in time we’d simply turn in a new direction, leave grief behind, and begin constructing a new life of happy happy.

Yet we know in our hearts, or guts, or wherever we go to discern what we’re feeling, that grief will always be part of our life because we will always love the one who died. We will always feel the sorrow and pain. But we also know that beauty and joy and laughter and dancing will be part of the mix.

Life after a death is not either/or. It is both/and.

While grief won’t be directing our traffic anymore, it will remind us, now and then, that we, and any of our loved ones, can die at any time from a variety of causes, most of which we can’t prevent.

Which brings me back to our original second. Grief has taught me the importance of living this second fully, paying attention to what is happening now, what I am feeling and how I can interact with the people around me and make a difference in their lives.

We have this second to do something amazing. Anything beyond that is grace.

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