I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Having just passed the year mark of Kevin's death, I already have people say things like, Well, it's been a year, you must be better now, right? I know these things are said lovingly, with hope and encouragement behind the words. The honest answer is no, I am not better. I don't know if I ever will be better or what better looks like.
What I do know is I experience more ease. The pain of losing Kevin is not gone. I doubt that wound will ever heal. But it is easier. Sometimes. I still have days when I wake crying, when I can barely function. They are slightly less frequent now. I am more likely to have days that are a blur where, while I may not be sobbing, I still am shrouded.
Rose Kennedy, a woman who knew something about love and loss, said, "It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." I think she's right. I have the thinnest layer of scar tissue now, easily scraped away, but there nonetheless. The grief still comes in waves. I still drown sometimes. Now, at least, I know the wave will pass.
So what does healing look like? For me it seems to mean that I can talk about Kevin without immediately crying. It means I can visit some of our shared pleasures without falling immediately apart. It means I am beginning to think about what the coming days and weeks will be like without feeling only the lack of my heart. Healing looks like crying, like staring off into the distance, like laughing and stopping with a start. It looks like good moments mixed in with the bad. It looks like me.
I don't think I will ever recover from this loss, in the sense that I will recover who I was before he died. I am and will be different. A loss of this magnitude should leave scars. A love of this magnitude changes you. So does the loss.
My heart is still broken. It beats in a different time now, without Kevin's heart in rhythm. I am learning to hear the new rhythm and I may eventually find the dance in it. Not today. But I am still here. I am able to feel the sun on my face. That, perhaps, is what healing looks like. I am still here.
p.s. I've hesitated to publish this post because I don't want anyone to think I am done grieving. All I am noting is that things change. To deny the change would be as false as denying the pain, would be as false as denying the ease.
(c)2015 Laura S. Packer