Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on Time and Grief

Time is an artificial construct. Does the universe keep time? On earth, we count time by days, determined by the earth's revolution, and years, determined by the earth's path around the sun, and divide up those major divisions in order to mark our months, our hours, our minutes and seconds. But those are all meaningless away from the confines of earth and even here they are artificial. We talk as though 3:00 p.m. or October 30th, has some meaning other than the abstract concept within our earth time.

And yet, those abstract concepts mark out the measures of our lives. We set great meaning and store in them. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries. We remember when things happen by those dates. We plan the future by them. Without time, how could we understand our history, our present, or our future?

Thus it is that for Peter W. and me, the 9th and 10th of the month will always have a special and sad significance, for we know that Leif died on the 9th of April and we found him on the 10th. On the 9th of each month, we know that another month as passed without him; each 10th reminds us of what we have lost and will never have again.

February 10th is a doubly sad day for me, for that is the anniversary of my father's death in 1960, another day I lost someone who meant the world to me, another man who could not fight his depression any longer and lost the battle to live. Another man who took his own life, and who I found. Another man, who likely passed on, through me, a genetic predisposition to that terrible depression and doomed my son as he had been doomed.

Why should these days be any sadder than others, since time is abstract? Because that is how we humans define life. We organize it by time. And therefore, today is yet another milestone of grief.

Ten months since our beloved son died. Ten months of asking why? Ten months of settling his affairs. Ten months of memories, photos. Ten months of no text messages, no phone calls, no visits, no email. Ten months of getting up each day to remember all over again that our son is dead.

Ten months of missing his mischievous brown eyes. Ten months of no bear hugs. Ten months with no lively conversations about life, politics, gadgetry, computers, cell phones, cars, guns. Ten months of the hole in our hearts, which has not grown smaller.

If he is anywhere in this universe, earthly time most likely has little or no meaning to him now. How would he count the days, the hours, the months since he decided to pull the trigger? Would he regret it? Or is he happier now?

I thought it would get easier. They say time heals. Perhaps it will, someday. So far, it has not.

Time has not healed me. I look in the mirror and I see someone who looks ten years older than I did a year ago, ten years sadder, not ten months. I don't see the dancing sparkle in my eyes any more. They look sad and old.

I think about "putting on a good front." I think about the song in "The King and I," "Whenever I Feel Afraid." Is putting on a good front a good idea? It certainly makes things easier for others, and for me when I'm with them. It's kinder. But it's not honest, yet that's how it has to be.

As to whistling a happy tune, I understand the concept of acting happy or unfraid to convince oneself. I've tried. I keep trying. Maybe someday it will work. I am not unhappy all the time. There are moments when I'm happy. Someday, those moments will last longer. I hope.

Today Peter asked me whether writing the blog makes it worse for me, whether it just reminds me. My reply was, "Do you think I need a reminder?"

The blog doesn't make me any sadder. It does give me an outlet, both for grief and for memories, a way to share them both, a way to keep his memory alive.

He lived.

And I will always love him.

I will always miss him.

No matter how many days pass. No matter how many years pass.

He was; he is, my son.

1 comment:

  1. words fall short, dying is easy, living is hard.