Friday, July 4, 2014

Time is a liar

Happy fourth of July. Last year Kevin and I spent this holiday with friends at their cookout. As we were walking home we held hands and talked about how coming to Kansas City was the right move. I still think it was the right move, though everything is different now.

Today marks 14 weeks since Kevin died. 14 weeks is both a long time and nothing.

A 14 week old fetus is about the size of a nectarine.

At 14 weeks I am beginning to really understand that he is gone. The pain is a deep, grinding thing. It's no longer constant razor blades, but it's more endemic, more inescapable. The illusions are thinner now. In some ways, I am sadder now than I was 6 or 10 weeks ago. I have begun to drift towards the middle of our bed. I wake up and move back over, wanting to leave room for him.

14 weeks into a college term, everyone is panicked about finals. 14 weeks into elementary school the kids are dreaming of their December break. It's cold enough they need to wear coats outside at recess.

At 14 weeks I find I am more able to function, though I am still utterly exhausted. I am cooking occasionally. I spend time with friends. I'm thinking about work again. I still get tired easily and have very little tolerance for crowds or even long conversations. I am still deeply internal. I am still in some amount of stasis, though I know holding still won't bring him back.

14 weeks into a new job you are starting to get your bearings, but you still worry that you'll offend your new work friends or forget some vital piece of HR knowledge.

14 weeks into grief, I still cry almost every day. I might skip a day here or there, but no longer than that. I still feel the lack of him every night and in every decision. I rarely laugh. I don't want to be forced into it, I'm not ready yet. Funny how crying and laughing use most of the same muscles.

14 weeks is just over a quarter of year. It's a fraction of a lifetime. It seems like such a long time. It seems like such a short time. 

I'm beginning to get hints from a few friends that I should decide to feel better. Decide to have a good time. Decide to move on. Grief doesn't work like that. Time is a liar when you're mourning the  love of your life. It's hard to understand both how little time and how long it has been if you haven't gone through something like this. It may even be hard to remember what it was life, if it was long enough ago.

Time has always been an elastic and confusing thing; when we're happy it moves so quickly and when we're sad or bored it becomes interminable. Our perception of time turns us into liars and the lost.

I can't believe it's been 14 weeks since I last kissed him, it doesn't feel that long. I can't believe it's been only 14 weeks since I kissed him.

I think the Victorians had it right, that it takes a good long year to be ready to be in the world again. Or maybe it doesn't. I won't know until I know. And until then, please remember that your measure of time and mine are very different right now. I am living without. Are you? If not, then please be patient and wait for me to measure my life in minutes again, instead of breaths, absence and growing distance from the one I love.

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. The clock of grief is not measured in time nor is it a broken time piece waiting for repair.
    Grief is measured by the healing of a broken heart. And only the owner of that heart will know when the healing is done.
    Thinking of you

  2. I am 11 days short of a year .. and seems like it just happened and them a million years at once... a year will never be enough... .. eternity... a new kind of purgatory...

  3. "Funny how crying and laughing use most of the same muscles."

    I've recently gone back to see my acupuncturist for some issues with my hand. He's also a massage therapist and I found out he's been experimenting with really deep face massage. We give very little thought to the muscles in our face which work hard every day to convey our emotions and mirror emotions when we interact with others. He said he'd done some research and come to the conclusion that relaxing the face muscles is a way to give us a bit of a blank slate emotionally. For the past few years I've been having a harder time smiling spontaneously. I will smile or laugh with outside stimuli but I rarely smile just because. At my first session he treated my hand and offered me a face massage. I figured it couldn't hurt. Afterwards I found I was giddy. The corners of my lips lifted easily when I went to a cafe to get a drink and smiled at the barista. I didn’t realize that one of the reasons I was having trouble smiling was because my face muscles were so tight it was physically uncomfortable to smile. I just avoided smiling and thought it was because I was having a tough time.

    It’s understandable that now is not a time for much laughter. I’m sure that time will come again. When it does, if you want it to be easier, I wholeheartedly recommend a good face massage!

    Thinking of you…

  4. Hi Laura,

    This is such a powerful piece of writing! Beautiful imagery, metaphors that bring to life what the emotions actually feel like.
    You share your deepest, most real feelings. These things lead me & others to understand how it is for you.
    By sharing you help me & you help others in our process.
    You help to make us all realize that we are not alone. I'm at 14 weeks too but am not a gifted writer/storyteller like you are. I feel
    all these things you so eloquently express.

    Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. It is a sacred thing.

    Love and blessings,

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments. It's good to know you're with me and that my writing is useful.

  6. Just came across this in my Internet travels. It's written by the wife of a prominent minister. The tragedy to which she refers is the loss of one of their adult sons to suicide.

    I thought this was beautifully expressed:

    "The truest friends and “helpers” are those who wait for the griever to emerge from the darkness that swallowed them alive without growing afraid, anxious or impatient."

  7. Dear Laura, your writing, your spirit, and your courageous journey are all so helpful and meaningful to so many of us. Death is a central and fundamental part of life and our culture is in such denial about it and this is harmful and dangerous. We marvel at your consistent ability to be so honest, generous and undeterred despite the staggering pain as the result of the death of your beloved, the enormity of it all as well as the sniping from those both near and far......... Please keep letting us know how we can be supportive, helpful and useful to your process and journey. You are teaching us a tremendous amount about something essential to human existence....... The search for meaning, truth, clarity, sanity, and the tools to both survive and maybe even thrive after such a loss is so important............Thank You.


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