Time. This dimension, concept, measurement, THING is impossibly simple yet undeniably complex. Defined as-the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. Ok, sure. To me, time is-for lack of a better word- tricky. Can an explanation of time ever really be definite when it’s based on perception? Are claims of time “flying by” or “standing still” based on an experience or event occurring within a blip of measured “irreversible succession” and are they just silly expressions? Or could it be that experience determines individual perception making time in fact, immeasurable. When you lose someone, things that once seemed simple, well, just aren’t anymore. Songs, items, words, dates, countless reminders of that someone lost. I mean, it’s bizarre. How can pain and grief alter a simple feeling about a simple thing adopting such contradicting meaning. And based on what, circumstances? Yet here we are.. approaching change, feeling helpless and bound to something about to take control of you.
I never imagined it could be so difficult existing through times of certain significance. Milestones. Stops along our journey in time like checkpoints. A way to measure this promised infinite certainty. And yet some thing so definite and reliable with all its promises of longevity, mocks us with it’s unfair and unpredictable inconsistency among individuals. Among lives. We are born and we are given time. Time that varies so Drastically and erratically- from barely a second to beyond a century. Taunting us through our time, with the mystery of our given measurement. So when a life ends, and a persons time is up things as simple as calendar dates or “anniversaries” become anticipated cause for anxiety for those with clocks still ticking. Approaching, living, and recovering from something in the past seems like an unnecessary torture. Yet, if you’re grieving, you must endure the contradicting repetition of “irreversible succession” into the future taking the past along with you like an awkward heavy carry on. This is because, as the date creeps closer, the memories creep along side. Memories of how you heard, what you did, what you saw, and ultimately when you knew- really knew. That they are gone. Times up. Their time, and your time with them. Ripped from worlds that revolved around them, leaving wounds behind that will never fully heal, but will harden like a scar. Because with any would that deep, there’s a scar. And so the journey of grief continues with the scar it’s marked you with. With effort, you learn in time to hide it and cover up in order to keep moving. Just move, you tell yourself with passing time. You make a conscious decision time and time again to cover up what you don’t want exposed. Layer by layer, however much it takes, you hide the evidence of the very present past- protecting everyone around you from seeing that big, ugly, irreversible scar…because if they saw it, they’d know. That the pain from how badly you were wounded back in time, has not subsided. That the grief has evidently become part of your past, present, future- your time of existence.
I have experienced two life-changing losses, both during summer time. Time has marked them two years apart. But years and summers apart have become incomprehensible to me by grief. Summer is now just a grief trigger. It’s measured by time and accepted blindly, but I’ve lost all acceptance or even understanding of this concept. Summer has become something else, has taken the form of a palpable, living, terrifying presence. And when it nears, it feels similar to a monster slowly approaching from behind- but youre helpless to stop it’s inevitable attack, and the vulnerability you will feel when it exposes you. So as the Seasons transition and the weather warms, I start to succumb to its familiarity. I find it increasingly harder to cover up. The sun and the summer weather bring me to days of the past at first, the days before a shattered heart and permanent scars. Days before I ever had to miss them. The memories I’ve tried so hard to push down all year start to surface, effortlessly and without consent. It then becomes too hot, harder to breathe even, making it impossible to stay so covered up. Layers start to shed, and that scar is inevitably exposed. And just like that, you’re back to another time in the past. Wounded, vulnerable, and consumed with thoughts of when you lost. When someone you loved and needed just ran out of time. And so, you’re left to continue forward, while reliving each moment of this past event- every second of every memory accounted for. Time makes sure of that.
Time is tricky, I guess. And it heals nothing. When you love someone that deeply and you lose them, everything is different and nothing is simple. But why is it that a birthday, anniversary, due date, song, place, word or any reminder has to take on a different meaning? Grief has a power that creeps in and rearranges you, challenging your beliefs. And the hardest part is paralyzing pain behind a lack of control. We can’t bring back what we lost.. Who we lost. And we can’t go back in time. That fact is definite. It’s a helplessness that could never be explained and only understood by those who’ve loved and lost. Loved and lost someone who was so significant.. that their sudden absence alters everything you knew, thought and were before being without them. Every time.
Jessica Wheeler is a full time mom and aspiring writer currently residing in Branford, CT with her husband and two young daughters. Born with a passion for music and arts, Jessica started singing/songwriting at an early age which led to an acceptance into the music department at ECA (Educational Center For The Arts) in New Haven, CT. Jessica also has experience in the medical field, having specialized in Radiation Therapy.
Jessica draws writing inspiration from her personal struggle to cope with the grief and PTSD acquired after multiple losses of very dear loved ones in a short timespan. Most notably, her younger sister Kelly, whose battle with drug addiction was lost in 2015.