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It Takes A Decade


It Takes a Decade


Recently my mom and I had a curious moment in the lives of two women who live next door to each other.  I walked into her house and she commented on my outfit (she liked it); and then she smiled and said something like, “You just look like your old self again.”  Hm.  Lately I had been thinking something similar about her…

 My sister Katie will be dead for 10 years in September.  Nearly a decade has passed. 

 It’s hard to believe.

 In some ways it seems impossible that it could be so long since I’ve seen her.  Then again, sometimes when I try to grab for her in my mind it can feel like a thousand years since I’ve hugged her slender body or brushed her trademark hair. 

 I will never forget the one thing I gleaned from a dreadful “Survivors of Suicide” conference I attended just after we lost Katie.  This woman said to the group, “The first year might not be your worst year; it might be the 2nd year or the 7th…  (Gee, thank you, because we’re just not sufficiently depressed already.)

 It was plain terrifying to understand that I was facing the start of a lifetime without my sister.  I was annoyed by the event and determined not to be part of that sad little group.  I was going to get better right away.  Year One.  Bring it on.  Surely misery like this could not sustain itself for very long.

 I learned quickly that sorrow changes over time, but grief does not lose its burly grip for a long, long while. So when Year Three rolled around and I was a moody, gray-ish version of myself (and more depressed than ever) I kind of hoped that that lady was on to something.

 I spent a lot of time home alone in Year Three.  I stood in the living room in the middle of the day and cried out loud.  I shocked myself with the sounds of my heartache.  I read and re-read letters from Katie, touched the brush strokes on her paintings, crawled into her bed, listened to her cds, smelled her clothes, cherished her hairbrush.  I searched and searched.  I searched for bits of her every place I knew to look. 

 It was like that for a while.  I grieved hard. I let it have me.  This had to be The Year.

 And then, slowly, life got a little easier.  The wound began to heal.

Instead of waking up destroyed by the reminder of my loss, morning time brought pleasant expectation and sometimes even delight.  I could be lighthearted without faking it.  I could genuinely enjoy life, and no longer felt guilty for or perplexed by the ability to laugh, make love, dance at a wedding.  I could feel the girl I used to be resurfacing; a little tougher now, a little more tender.

 The ache for my precious sister will never subside, my heart is only mended.  Even as I write this, unexpectedly her favorite song plays on the radio and my hands freeze on the keyboard while my insides grit with longing.

 I know what to expect, I know the pain will ebb and flow. 

I also know the healing is reliable and real.

 My mom says I look like my old self again.

 Sometimes it takes a decade.

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About the Author

Liz is the stay-at-home mother of two wild boys. She loves to spend any quiet minute she can grab writing.

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