A few days ago I phoned my Aunt Janet to check in and hear about end-of-summer plans. She answered the phone and asked, “Honey, how are you?”
I burst into tears. Two minutes before the phone call I was doing laundry, planning lunch in my head, feeling completely emotionally stable. Something about her tone, the warmth in her voice, or the simple question, shoved the weight of my loss to the forefront.
Grief is a poor sport favoring low blows and side swipes. Grief will kick you in the back and knock you to your knees when you are least expecting it. On a random Tuesday morning, with an armload of clean laundry and a wiggling dog at your feet, you will think of your mother and fall apart.
There have been times in my life when I have measured my grief by the hour. From noon until 1:00 I was fine, but from 1:00 to 2:15 I sat in the bathtub and sobbed.
Then suddenly you realized it has been years since your dad died, or your husband, or your sister. Time has passed and the worst is over. Grief loosens its grip. You no longer get teary-eyed in the cereal aisle at the supermarket or sick to your stomach when you hear a particular song.
Time heals all wounds, so the cliché goes. The wounds heal into thick, rough scares that we carry with us.