Time. A social construct in which we measure the passing of our lives. It controls when we work. What time we wake up. The time in which we go to bed. It can oversee how long before we say “I love you” and the changing of seasons. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? It controls our whole lives and yet we don’t realise how much we rely on something that was created out of nothing.
But time is more than just a social construct. It is so much more than the passing of days, weeks and years. Time is the greatest healer of them all, you see.
Eight years ago today, I was on the cusp of my adult life. I was ready to pack my bags and set off on the great adventure of university. I was in love – or at least what I considered love at the time. I was getting ready for halloween party, dressing up as a zombie, because I my mind goes blank when it comes to fancy dress and I often find myself reaching for the easiest option. As you will all know by now, that halloween party changed my entire life. Four hours shaped me forever. My whole world crumbled as I discovered my boyfriend had committed suicide.
Someone recently asked me how important it has been for me to make sense of my past in terms of my present and my future. It got me thinking about whether I had even made sense of the events in my past, or whether I had falsely marked each day not missing him as a corner turned.
Let’s talk real for a second shall we? Lets be brutally honest about the situation. The fact of the matter is that when you lose somebody whom you build your whole world around, be that a lover, a friend or a parent, everything stops. There is no other way to explain it, time freezes and you find yourself stuck in that moment. I have been moving through the motions of the last eight years, unaware of the time that has passed with each pining of my heart. Yes, I still pine for him eight years on. Yes, I still carry the shame of keeping it a secret for so long. And yes, there are days where I want nothing more than to know what his life could have been like.
You can measure almost everything with time. How long is left before you clock off. How long your favourite song is. But one thing always escapes the grasp of Father Time, and that is grief. It is impossible to know how long you will miss someone. There is no guideline on the acceptable amount of months you should spend in a state of mourning – missing a life that you hadn’t finished exploring.
Eight years on, I miss him terribly. There are days when I’d like to think he was with me and there are days when I wish he’d go away, leaving me alone to build a new life for myself. But time makes it easier. This Summer, I taught my niece how to ride her bike. She was terrified, to begin with. It wasn’t the process of riding the bike that scared her, but the fear of falling off and hurting herself. Slowly, over the space of a week, she rode her bike confidently, gaining speed and becoming care free. Then the inevitable happened; she fell off her bike. She cut her knee and she refused to ever ride again.
But slowly, the cut became a scab which eventually fell off, leaving her knee untouched. It took her a while to feel confident enough to pick up her bike and ride again. But slowly her confidence returned and now there is no stopping her.
I’d like to think that grief and time work in a similar way to my niece and her journey to becoming an olympic cyclist.
When someone you love dies, a huge wound is left inside of you. Ignoring it won’t make it go away either, it needs care and it’s going to sting, but you need to stop it from getting worst. Slowly, over time that wound hurts less as it begins to close up. But for a long time it’s still there and some days you wont notice it at all, others you will feel it ache and it will throb. Eventually, the huge wound becomes a closed scar, a sign that you survived.
Getting back on the bike for me is about falling in love again. It’s still something that I am learning and each time I think I am ready, I realise I still have got a little further to go. I have spent so long beating myself up for not being ready – and thats where the whole point of this post comes to fruition.
It takes time. The wound doesn’t stop hurting and begin to close up overnight. It takes precious months – sometimes years – to attend to the wound during its healing process and then it takes a little longer to get back onto the bike. You will be cautious at first. You will wonder if it’s really for you, but stick at it. Because getting back on your bike and riding it after falling off is such a freeing feeling. It builds confidence and it builds trust in yourself. It just takes time.
Eight years on and I think my time has come to believe in myself again. I will always miss him, I will always wonder if he would have become as incredible as I knew he could. He had such potential in this world. But my wound is becoming a scar, a sign that I made it.
And all it took was time.
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