Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

The Time Effect

Monday, May 6, 2013
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What is time? An internet search yielded 31 definitions on just one site alone. Time is used to define the passing of some measurable increment between events: to mark how many minutes, days, hours, weeks, months or years it has been since something happened, or how long it will be before an event occurs. One of the definitions that stood out for me was the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole. In July 2013, it will be five years since my husband suddenly died in his sleep. Five years since I went to sleep a wife, and woke up a widow. “Continued progress of existence.”

Time, although measurable, is very much subjective. It can feel like the blink of an eye, or an eternity, or somewhere in between. Widow time can take on additional meanings of “pre” and “post” widowhood that can be both agonizingly long, and bitterly short. In the early stages of widowhood, I measured in days, then weeks, how long it had been since Joe passed. I remember feeling that I would never make it to three, six, nine or twelve months. When it shockingly became “one year,” I defiantly still marked the days on my calendar in months: 13 months, 15 months, 18 months...all the way up to 2 years. It was kind of like the counting of infant/toddler months until a child becomes a 2 year old, and then suddenly we mark the passing of time in years. Defying logic, my thinking at some point shifted from passing time in months to time in years since he died, as in saying “this is the 3rd birthday I’ve celebrated since he died” or “this is our 4th Christmas without him.”

My youngest son made his 1st Communion this past Saturday. My oldest made his four years ago in May 2009. That was 8 months after Joe died, and I was still pretty much on numb, foggy autopilot, trying to will myself out of bed each day and going about life on a day to day basis.

Now it is “nearly five years since he died,” and I have a completely different perspective of what being a widow entails. I don’t measure time since his death in weeks or months anymore. But the void from him not being here for all of life’s events, big or small, is still ever present.

I still have days where I want to hide in my bed and not face the world. These periods of time can come in waves...and sometimes extend longer than I’d like them to. I am aware of patterns in behaviors related to the amount of time it’s been since I became a widow, and seasons in which it occurs. I am always anxious in early Spring, and each fall has brought need for solitude. But I am also aware that my periods of crying and hopelessness have lessened over time, and that when I do fall into a “funk” it takes me less time to get out of it than it used to. I spend less time worrying about how to make it to a certain day on the calendar, and more time thinking about and planning what lies ahead.

Time marches on. Time heals all wounds. Time waits for no one. Time’s a-wasting. In my world, time is a continued progress of existence. Only I can decide how I use that time, how I exist. I hope to make the most of time, however it is measured.

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