I can’t stop thinking of my friend Jennie. It’s been a year since her husband died and for some reason that seems to be the magic number where people stop caring. I don’t mean caring in the broad sense. Everyone cares about her and wants the best for her. But slowly, she’ll drop off people’s radars and even the most loving of her friends and family won’t think of her every day.
And yet, she’ll still grieve. Her apartment will still be minus one and no matter how hard she tries, she’ll still have days that just plain suck. That’s what I can’t stop thinking about. How she has to carry on every day for herself and her girls and slowly the support that was there in those first few days will fade away so she’s left to carry the weight of the world on two shoulders that used to be four.
Death sucks. Grief sucks more because people put a clock on it. Even well-meaning people subconsciously put a clock on the sadness. I know I’m guilty of it. Of others and of myself I’ve asked the question, “isn’t it time to move on?” I’ve never lost a husband though, so while I put a timetable on my own grief, I honestly can’t imagine moving on after losing your partner. I saw my mom do it. I’ve watched others do it. But it hurts me every time I think of people I love not only having to move forward but ever feeling pressure to do so from the ones around them.
But what does moving on even mean? Certainly you don’t forget. Certainly it isn’t easy, ever. When someone is taken from your life, yes, taken because it feels like nothing short of a theft and violation, how do you continue to live in a way that honors them and yourself? And how do you shut out the noise of what everyone around you thinks is right?
I was speaking to another person I love the other day who suffered a similar fate to Jennie more than a year ago. She is still marking the date-as I would. But this year she said it’s time to do something different-a new ritual if you will-that celebrates life. She seemed excited about a trip even though it would mark a birthday and an anniversary no one ever wants to celebrate.
It filled my heart with joy to see her smile, really smile. I hope she wasn’t faking it for us. I hope she’s found a way to be happy again in spite of the grief.
I hope Jennie does too, in time, find a way to be happy without having to work so hard for it.
She deserves that. Everyone does.
I hope the people I love know that no matter how many years pass, I’m still thinking of them and want nothing more than to help mend their heart as best as they can be mended.
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