The world showed me six and half weeks ago how little it can care about us and the worlds we build. Six and a half weeks ago the world took so much within only a matter of moments and it left no time to pick up any shattered pieces.
Those first 9 days, people paused a little more. They stopped and spoke and remembered I wasn’t normal or whole. They were delicate and gentle. They gave time and words and made moments linger when everything was grey. God, how I wish I could remember things other than that grey. Those first 9 days people seemed to recognize how hard the pain must be and they showed up in ways I can never forget. Those first 9 days it was okay to not be okay. Those first 9 days I saw humanity at its finest. What a sight I saw, too.
On the 10th grey day, when the to do list had been too done, I sat.
I sat in murky air and tried to recall those first 9 days. I tried to remember names, places, faces, something, anything. Some stood out, in those moments when we needed them. In those moments when the black and white had been pierced by love and compassion. Color had shown through at times, but still my monochrome mourning had seemingly won. That 10th day though, the quiet was resoundingly loud. The clock ticked, ticked, ticked away desolate seconds in my emptied heart. I couldn’t stand that day, the longest day, the day of solitude and sadness. The quiet day.
On the 11th grey day, I did something. I don’t really recall what. I talked, posted, spoke, wrote. I think I ate. Maybe I didn’t, but I did something. And the people saw their expectations of “my” normal once again. The 11th day, when I was grey the world around me continued along at its usual pace. And my heart had no choice but to cry a little more.
Then there was the 12th day, I must’ve been cracking a little bit more because I misspoke and someone laughed. They made a joke and I laughed too, but I didn’t tell them how I couldn’t remember. I didn’t say, it was because I am here, but not. I didn’t ask them to pause and consider, because those first 9 days were done now. I was told time moves on, and so must we. On the 12th day, the words weren’t as aware. The eyes weren’t as lingering. The hearts hadn’t quite held on like mine had and so I held my tongue so they wouldn’t have to sit in pain. I held my heart back for them not to feel unnecessary agony. There were more of them, and I am but one. It made sense to let them live, even though I didn’t remember how.
On the 16th day, is when I was finally forgotten. My pain was no longer seen and the anger I felt from someone close, someone who found ill intention in my absent-mindedness, told me my grief was no longer allowed. They saw my forgetfulness and were frustrated. And I had no excuse to use in my defense. 15 days had come and gone, it’s time to move along now. To be normal once more. Damn, I didn’t know my vacation time should be used to mourn and return back at the regularly scheduled time. I guess I should have saved up more sick leave.
On the 20th day, it happened more and more. So, I mentioned it less and less. I no longer spoke of the unforgettable things I saw. I no longer shared the heartache openly, because it was uncomfortable. It was hard to see, hard to hear. And my time to share was up. My time to love and mourn those who I would never again see, or hear, or hold a single day in my life was up within the first 9 days of losing them. I can never correct my mistakes. I can never grow or know. I can never…. but those first 9 days are gone, so no need to consider these thoughts anymore.
If only I had known on day one that I had to get all of my grief and pain out in the first 9 days.
I will never again underestimate the cruelty we place by confining grief and mourning to an unreasonable amount of days. I am sorry to all of you. All those who have loved and lost and will never be the same again. I am broken for you, here in my Six and a Half week setting. You can be grey with me, you can be forgetful. You can be broken and pained. You can overlook and even walk through me, and I will never tell you it isn’t okay. Because it simply is. I will do my best to be more compassionate in this because I have seen it now. I have lived it.
Grief has changed me. All I ask, is please, be kind to one another. We never know what pressure time has placed on our hearts.
-Susie Reynolds Reece