Time doesn’t heal. This is the heading of the email as it arrives in my inbox.
Its insides are as useless as its heading. It’s an article on how to apologize to people you love. It tells me that if you don’t give the people you love this apology when you’ve hurt them, they’ll never be able to move on.
I think it’s found the wrong inbox. And, perhaps too, the wrong conclusion. You can move one without one, the same as you can move on without a goodbye. It is just much, much harder.
The heading, while useless, is nevertheless accurate. It isn’t time that does the healing.
“Every time someone gives me some useless platitude about how time will heal me or I’ll find someone else or that I just need to give it time, some part of me thinks that what they really want is for me to go back to being the old me, and that’s not ever going to happen.” I tell her.
“What do you mean by the old you?” she asks.
“You see, I was always, at heart, secretly an optimist. I had actual hope. I genuinely thought after Ian died that if I just kept trying my hardest, things would get better. I’d find people I fit in with, I’d stop grieving, and so on. But this spring, when I was really struggling, that was broken right out of me. I realized that’s not actually how the world works. And now here I am, still unable to find a full-time job three months after being laid off, my finances are in the toilet, the only new person I really opened up to in the last three years is never going to speak to me again, and weirdly I feel better than I have in a long time.”
“Maybe that’s because you stopped believing it was all your fault that everything went wrong,” she says.
If it isn’t time that does the healing, maybe it is this acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that I can’t control everything. Acceptance of the fact that I’m not built like other people, and that some part of me will always be a little bit broken. Broken, but I love more easily now. Broken, but I take better care of others now. Broken, but when I feel love now, it stuns me with its fierceness, like how some evenings I’m struck dumb by moons in skies when gold gives way to plum to navy to velvet black, like this evening when I sang the small boy to sleep two nights before his fifth birthday, like this evening, when I placed my hand between the planes of his shoulders and felt him breathe and breathe and breathe.
I’ll never be able to give up all the grief, because I can’t undo all my love. Because I wouldn’t undo all the love.
Not even if I had all the time in the world.