Thursday, June 22, 2006

Time Passes

Dear Rachel,

Time passes, and things get a little better. Not completely better, of course, and not all at once. And not in a linear fashion, either; it’s the old “one step forward, two steps (or sometimes three or four or five) back” thing.

Still, I can see some light now. I don’t cry as much as I used to; rarely, in fact. I don’t as often find myself in a blue funk, either staring into space or working furiously on some essentially meaningless project just so I don’t have to think. Because having time to think means having time to remember, and while remembering can be good, it seems too often to lead to endless ruminating during which I replay in my mind not all the wonderful times we had together, but the moment of your death. There’s no percentage in doing that, of course; I certainly can’t change anything, and I don’t even really know all the particulars of your death. And yet, it’s hard not to think about it, difficult to avoid replaying that ugly little movie over and over again in my head.

But overall, I feel better as we head into year two.

I’ve heard people say, though, that the second year is often worse than the first—as hard as that might be to believe. (How could anything be worse than this?!) It makes a certain amount of sense, though: We spent that first year in a daze, struggling to handle details that needed to be taken care of, largely numb to the reality of your death. That first year was a constant and seemingly endless struggle to get through the next hour, the next day, the next week. Eventually, we discovered that we’d somehow survived a full year.

Which is where the trouble sometimes starts, I think. You get through that first year and there’s a feeling of accomplishment of sorts, a realization that you managed to sidestep—or sometimes just plow right through—all the landmines. My house is still standing, as is my marriage. I can still do my job, though perhaps not with the same joy I once took in it. I can still find enjoyment in friends, in a good dinner, in a good joke (or even a bad joke).

But nothing’s changed, really. We got through the year, but that didn’t change the fact that you’re gone. The fact that we got through the first year (including a painful but beautiful remembrance on the anniversary of your death and a terribly bittersweet Father’s Day) hasn’t changed a thing. One cannot undo a death.

So, yes, I can see why the second year might, for some people, be even worse than the first. We were pretty numb during that first year. The second year brings with it the realization that this is forever; an understanding that life will never again be the same, that when he shot you he killed something in all of us, something that can never fully come back to life.

So I guess that time doesn’t “heal all wounds.” Some of them simply scar over, and that’s the most one can ask for. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors: Time passes, but sometimes it beats the crap out of you as it goes by.