Four months ago my daughter was killed in a car crash. Her sudden death on a snowy night stunned her 15-year-old twins and sent shock waves through the entire family. Many of us are still in shock. I know I am. One moment, I know my daughter is gone. The next moment, I can’t believe it.
Nobody can grieve for me and I am working hard on recovery. But my grief flares when well-meaning friends say, “Last year was a hard one for you.” Last year? It has only been four months since my daughter died. When friends say this they are expressing caring and the fact that their lives have moved on. Though my life is moving forward, it is moving at a much slower pace.
Time is different when you’re grieving.
My daughter was killed on the 23rd day of the month and I don’t like to see that number on the calendar. I think of my daughter hundreds of times a day. Time goes backwards on the 23rd of each month. In my mind I see pictures of my daughter as a baby, toddler, elementary, high school and college student. Most of all, I think about the things my daughter accomplished in her short life and hope she knew she had “made it.”
Time goes backwards when I see the gifts my daughter bought for me. Each one was chosen with care. Some, like an embroidered apron, were made with love. When the twins gave my husband his birthday present, an astronomy book my daughter bought for him months ago, time went backwards again. His pleasure in the book was clear and so was his grief.
In the middle of the night time often stands still. I awaken from a sound sleep and realize I am crying. Once I am awake I’m awake for several hours. Disjointed thoughts come to mind: memories of our last Christmas together, working together at the church rummage sale, and the talks we shared. Though time is passing I feel stuck in time.
Time inches forward again when I am with the twins. They still come for dinner every Sunday because that is what their mother would have wanted. She started the tradition and my husband and I and my former son-in-law, want to continue it. Painful as it is, we tell stories about my daughter — the twins’ mother — and her joy in being a parent.
What will the future bring? Though I can’t predict future time, I know these things. I will savor every day of my life, every moment with my husband, and every moment with my grandchildren. The best gift I can give them is the gift of my time. For the hours I spend with my grandchildren will help them remember their mother and the life skills she gave them.
Time is different when you’re grieving. Thankfully, healing comes with the passage of time.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find more reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site (School Corner heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.
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