Do I still hurt?
Is the hurt the same?
Have I healed?
Yes and no.
Grief is not a hurdle. It is not a line in the sand. It is not a door you can close. Grief is an endless path. A never ending lesson. Grief is a part of who you are.
Grief is a silent passenger, a constant companion, and it is a reminder that long after we are all gone, something of love will always remain.
It has been 7 years since Chris's death and I can still say almost not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I still miss him, and I still miss being known in the way only time with someone allows. But these tend to be silent thoughts, in the back of my head. Time has moved on, as have I.
And then Fleetwood Mac will come on Pandora, singing “Landslide” and out of nowhere I am crying as if he just died yesterday. I am back to being a puddle of memories and a being made of nothing but aches. I remember everything. His last breath, the funeral home taking away his body, the nurses dressing him in his favorite pajamas. I can't believe how callus I am to have let my life move on, to have the nerve to exist without him, the audacity to find joy again. Then, suddenly I laugh out loud, remembering the glee on his face when my mother made chicken flautas, or his incredulity of a show called “the M.A.N.T.I.S.” and an episode with the City Eye. The ache dulls and I am overcome with the reality of the luck I had in meeting him in the first place.
That's what grief is. A reminder of what has been lost, and what has been gained.
The ache never ends. It becomes part of you. It is always there, but with a quiet presence. A presence that bears witness to new comforts, new losses, new loves, new heartaches, new choices, new mistakes – the list is endless. Everything is new. Even what you remember is new because it will now have a new life, a new color, a new insight. It is a new and different you experiencing the memory. Life will go on and happiness will find you again, and who you are will be greater because of the lessons you have learned.
That's what grief is. Grief is a teacher.
We are always in the midst of becoming more than we have been. More than we expect. More than we believe we are capable of. We are the sum of all that has come before, and in a way I don't fully understand, we are also the sum of what will come after. In the end, nothing is ever so lost, that it cannot be found again, and no tears have ever been cried, that weren't worth the joy that came before.