Five years ago, I turned 40. Ten months before my birthday, I had a baby. One week after giving birth, I found out my husband was going to die. Half a decade has passed now since I turned 40. As those 1825 days or so have passed, time feels slow. When I take a look back or take count of how much time has passed since I turned 40, it seems the length of a blink. I was holding a baby, now I will be walking a child to kindergarten. I was walking in a fog of sadness, now I am alert, the air is clear and I am keenly aware of many of the ways the last half decade has changed me. So many days alone, so many days to build my independence, so many days wondering what will come next, so many days just hoping for the sun to set, I have lived through so many dreadful, beautiful, painful and hopeful days since my husband died.
I have always been pretty self reliant and responsible…I think it’s part of being a first born kid. In the last half decade, I have become even more self reliant and responsible. Something else has happened to me though, I have become more vulnerable and more fragile. When I was young and things were more black and white, I didn’t think that responsible and vulnerable or fragile and self reliant could co exist. I thought I had to be tough all the time. I had to be tough to be respected, tough to be successful, tough to survive. The last half decade has brought a new awareness that I was incomplete. My loss, my grief, my broken heart have helped me touch a piece of my soul that I was always afraid to acknowledge. I had let one person in…my husband. I was able to trust him with the parts of me that I didn’t let anyone else see. When I lost him, those parts still existed. They couldn’t be re-bottled. They had to become part of the woman I would be without him and they have. A few days shy of 45, I can say that is in only my despair that I was able to let other people care for me. It was only after acknowledging how vulnerable and scared I was that I became able, some may say strong, to survive. It was only in surrendering to time and letting it feel like no time had passed to realizing that a half decade has passed that I was freed from time’s constraints and the expectations those constraints impose upon me.
A half a decade, gone in a blink. Pain that remains, expectations ex-sponged. Time passes and I still don’t think that time heals all wounds. A half decade after there is still immeasurable pain, but it is a new skill that has come with the vulnerability that the pain brings that has brought about my healing. A new appreciation for the human heart and spirit that learns to balance great pain with great love has been the gift. The human heart and spirit, so fragile, yet persistent, so vulnerable yet brave is the key to my survival each day.
So here’s to a half decade gone. Thank you for the gifts you have brought and good riddance to you. Another blink is on the way.