How can we taste this cake if it stays whole forever?
They say time heals everything. After a loss, we feel broken. A loss means something is missing. There is a void
and we sit
and we wait
to feel whole again. Like a starfish, we are led to believe that time will give us the power to regenerate that missing piece of us, because with time we are supposed to one day feel whole.
And when is that day coming?
Take as long as you need is what you are told. For the first year, maybe two, the people closest to you will be sympathetic. After that, they may start to silently feel that you are taking too long. Dwelling in the past is no good for anyone. However, we are not starfish.
Time does not heal.
Whatever it was that was taken from you, or whatever it was that you lost, it is not going to come back, and your body is not going to heal over itself, like a paper cut that will close up without a trace. You will always feel that loss. Maybe even decades later when you are walking down the street and dandelions are popping up through the cracks of the sidewalk, and you remember how your kid, who would’ve graduated from university by now had he not died so young, used to make you bouquets of these “lion’s teeth”, those cute little weeds with the fierce name. You will feel that loss, sharp and fresh as the first day it came to you. Time will not have dulled it.
If we are all walking around with bits of us missing, never to be replaced again, how can we ever be whole?
The trick is that we do not need to wait to be whole. We do not need to put life on pause while we wait to heal over that unwelcome hole that was blown through us.
You are already whole, even with the holes all through you. Those holes allow you to expand. It’s kind of like making pie crust. You have your bottom crust, which you fill with your favorite fruit filling. Then you have your top crust, which you need to cut slits in the dough.
This gives it the ability to expand over the bottom crust, revealing a lattice-like pattern, allowing the juicy bits of the pie to show through.
Instead of being a perfect 9″ x 9″ square of straight dough, you are now a beautiful cherry pie.
It doesn’t make the loss any easier. Maybe it never gets easier, and that is ok. However, waiting for it to be easier before you can imagine yourself as “whole” will stick you straight in the middle of the pain and hold you there.
Time doesn’t heal, but Time may give us some coping skills. One day, you may find yourself smiling at something before you realize it is the death anniversary of the greatest loss of your life. It doesn’t mean that time made you forget or that time made it better. It only means that you have come to understand that Pain and Joy can exist simultaneously. One doesn’t cancel out the other. All of your experiences, the happy ones and the not so happy ones, have allowed you to cover more of what life can offer. Like the pie crust, you are expanding all the time! You are not losing things and shrinking. Because of expansion, you can share more of what life has offered you. Your life, your stories, pain, triumphs…they are all so valuable. And when you are ready to share it all, you are whole.