Time heals, they say.
In my experience, time does not heal exactly, but it does help some scar tissue form. It helps the wound from being so excruciating and bloody.
My daughter died in May of 2008. In the first weeks and months I clung desperately to time. I counted days, then weeks, finally months, grabbing at every advancement on the calendar with both fists, wanting time to take away the pain.
And time, as is its nature, dragged inexorably forward.
The shock, for me, has lasted a long time. I still wrestle with her absence. How can she not be here! I still react to seeing a car like the one she was driving come down the street. For a brief moment I fantasize: The car pulls up, Ava bursts forth, saying, “Oh Mom! I’m so sorry I’ve been gone! You won’t believe what happened!” and we hug, cry and … oh, right. She’s dead.
Early on, each day was a struggle. I’d wake with a crushing weight on my chest as consciousness returned and I’d remember the reality of my dead child. So each day that ended was a small triumph: I made it this far.
I read everything I could find on death, loss, and specifically the loss of a child, and everything I read confirmed that the pain, the aching agony of grief would last years. I found myself praying for the years to go by. Could I just somehow skip ahead? This pain was too much to bear.
But I bore it, somehow. We do, don’t we? The only other option is an end to options. I’ll talk more about that dark path in another post. For me, it never became a serious consideration. I had promised my dying daughter that I would do my very best to carry on, to try to “be happy,” to not crumble without her. I keep my promises.
So each day crawled painfully into the next. I was in hell. I believe there is no deeper hell than where I was. But each day was a tiny step forward, inching upward out of chaos.
I made it through her birthday without her. I made it through that first Christmas. I have “made it” now through nearly three years since that horrific day. I look back and marvel that I survived those early days.
Does time help? Yes, it certainly does. The pain, while never gone, becomes somehow more bearable. I still hurt. I still shed tears. I know now I always will. This pain and the gaping hole she left in my heart will always be with me. But so will the treasures of my memories and the deep abiding love we have for each other.
Time may not heal, but it lends a hand to a willing heart. I made a promise to my daughter, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to keep it. We bereaved parents are changed people. A profound and abiding alteration happens to us – part of us really does die with the loss of our children. But other things are born as well. To paraphrase another parent, I may not be changed for the better, but I am changed for good.

George Eliot: "She felt as if her soul had been liberated from its terrible conflict; she was no longer wrestling with her grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts."

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Author's Bio: 

Born in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tamara Thomas moved to Arizona in 1980. She has lived and worked in the Wickenburg area for the last 11 years, and has spent the last eight years working at the Wickenburg Sun newspaper.
Tamara was educated at Reed College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Arizona. As well as being editor at The Sun, she is a professional artist with local murals on display in downtown Wickenburg and in many private homes and businesses throughout the west, as well as canvases that she shows and sells both locally and nationally.
Upon the loss of her only child in 2008, she underwent profound personal changes. Some of those changes produced a few good things: She helped found the $3,000 Abigail Garcia memorial scholarship for local graduating high school seniors; she founded a local mentoring group for at-risk high school students; she adopted a grade-school student from foster care – her second beloved daughter Tina; and she started a blog about grief, organ donation, adoption and related interwoven topics with the desire to benefit others experiencing similar changes.
Tamara can be reached through The Wickenburg Sun; by mail at PO Box 86, Wickenburg AZ 85358; through her website www.WhereThereIsLife.com, or via email at tam@wherethereislife.com.