What Time Can’t Heal

Content warning: Grief & loss

“Time heals”, they say when you lose someone. And it does. The passing weeks and months and years erode the jagged edges of raw grief, soften the blunt impact of shock and disbelief. Maybe you cry more for a while as your brain starts to wrap itself around strange, unruly concepts like “forever” and “never”, but eventually the tide relents and the tears ease. They still come, at special moments where the absence gapes an ugly hole in the festivities, or when you’re recounting one of your daftest memories, or when the vehicle in front has the same cheap, hideously abrasive box of tissues in the rear window and the car you can suddenly smell isn’t the one you’re sitting in anymore. But these moments grow fewer and further between. One day, you’re okay, mostly.

“Time heals,” they say when you lose someone, and it does. But what they don’t say is how, when wound starts to smooth into scar, that’s when the missing really starts. “Forever” and “never” take on new meanings again, your comprehension continuing to evolve, because you’re living them now. You feel the time passing in the changes in your life, in yourself, that you haven’t been able to share. In the news you can’t announce. In the funny stories you can’t tell. In the people you can’t introduce. In the phone calls you can’t make. In the photos you can’t send.

Time heals grief. But it creates, cultivates, amplifies missing. “I miss you more every day,” is a cliché everyone knows, probably because there’s so much truth in it. Every day, more of the ocean of my experiences fills the chasm left by your loss. Ten years now of life I’ve lived since I last shared a moment of it with you, and the more it accumulates, the heavier the weight of everything I’ve done and seen and said and felt and wondered that I can’t tell, ask, celebrate with you. I miss what we didn’t have yet perhaps even more than what we did. I miss the chance I never got to know your life, properly. I miss the grown-up relationship we’d barely started to develop. Who really knows their parents at 18? Though I did, at least, know you had the softest heart and silliest humour of maybe anyone I’d ever know. And the woman I am today might be almost unrecognisable from the girl I was ten years ago, but there’s enough of you woven through me that you’d know me anywhere. I know.

Ten years since I last saw your face, held your hand, kissed your stubbly cheek. It’s such a long time. Time has, largely, healed my grief. But God I miss you, Dad. Every single day.

2 thoughts on “What Time Can’t Heal

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  1. That one hit really close to home and tears are rolling down my cheeks now.
    Not quite ten years yet for me but close enough and I do also feel that ‘I miss what we didn’t have yet perhaps even more than what we did.’, more and more.
    Sorry you had to go through this

    Liked by 1 person

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