- Taya Dunn Johnson
ONE YEAR AFTER LOSS
One year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8760 hours. Never have I been so cognizant of the passing of time as I’ve been since 8:20am on June 9, 2012. My husband died. My heart broke. My life changed. And then 8:21am came. 8:22am. Then June 10. Followed by June 11. And then I turned 37. Then came August 9. A wedding anniversary with no husband. And then it turned cold. And then it was 2013. And then LittleTDJ turned 4. And then it turned warm. Memorial Day came. Then, suddenly, it was June 9. Again.
Time has never passed so slowly while advancing at warp speed. I didn’t actually realize that it was possible to feel as if you were fully clothed and crawling through thick mud while simultaneously feeling as if you were sitting in the front car at the highest crest of a downward facing roller coaster. A year ago, I was content in my life as wife and mother. Today, I am forced to press on alone as a widowed mother. One year ago, LittleTDJ was a “baby boy” and still sipping from a bottle. Last week, he took the trash can to the curb by himself because that’s his new chore. Anyone who knew me prior to 6/9/12 knows that I was a talker. Nowadays, I go for long periods of silence barely answering when spoken to. 367 days ago, I was able to yap anytime and share the whimsical and the serious with the man I had loved for 20 years. Sunday night, I cried myself to sleep because I didn’t feel like there was a soul on this earth whom I could pick up the phone and call.
My faith has been one of the things to help me get through the last 367 days. I trust God and the plans that he has for my life and the life of LittleTDJ, although I still have trouble believing that it was my husband’s time to leave this earth. I recognize that he is with us in spirit and anyone who has met both MrTDJ and LittleTDJ, knows with 100% certainty that our child is HIS son. Perhaps I’ll get to a place where I can accept his passing with a mature Buddhist attitude like “everything happens for a reason” but I’ll never utter those words.
On Sunday, June 10, 2013, I awoke and stared at my ceiling. Wishing. Hoping. Praying. Breathing. And waiting. Just waiting. Waiting to feel something different. Waiting for the one year mark to mean something. Waiting for the clarity to come. Just waiting. And then nothing happened. The skies didn’t move. I didn’t hear the voice of God or MrTDJ. I would not have been stunned to have my comedian of a husband tickle my neck while saying “Gotcha” and chuckling. Relief at his having pulled off the biggest “joke” of his career would have replaced my anger. Being able to cry tears of joy over the “joke” would almost erase all the heartache that I’ve experienced.
But, instead, nothing happened.
My heart doesn’t hurt any less.
My son doesn’t miss his father any less.
And I don’t love my husband any less.
If anything, the exclamation point makes things hurt even worse.
Does the one year mark even mean anything?
Hell, I don’t know. I’ve floated between a growling bear and a crying baby since last week, so I guess it means something. I hate the saying, “Time heals all wounds”. It’s a blatant lie and I wish no one would ever, ever say it again. Even if you’re thinking it, please don’t say it. Those who have said or written it to me, I’m not angry with you; I just don’t want you to say it to anyone else who is grieving a loss. Time is a unit of measure. Specifically explained by science dictionary, time is, ” A continuous, measurable quantity in which events occur in a sequence proceeding from the past through the present to the future. ” That’s it. Time isn’t a manufactured item. It has no inherent qualities to improve ones’ life. Time is not a tangible thing. It has not gone to divinity school nor has it been licensed by Johnson & Johnson with any medicinal powers. Time is simply time. I’m not obtuse; I know people are trying to help. I can surely tell you that today, 367 days later, time hasn’t done a damn thing to heal my pain.
What I can say is that there are simply more moments between 8:20am, June 9, 2012 and the present. With each breath that I take, I am further from the last living moment that I spent with my husband. Time exists and life continues to drag me along, moment by moment. As the seconds, minutes, hours, and days pass, new moments that don’t contain my husband try to take residence in my mind. There is a constant battle within my white matter for space to store the memories of our years together and the life that began at 8:21am on June 9, 2012.
Many have alluded to or directly made comments that indicate that my time on the clock is up. As if the magical one year mark means that I must abandon my tears, toss away my rings and “get back to normal”. The notion is absurd and I’ve not responded to any of the nonsense.
One of the promises I made as the calendar changed to 2013 was to “be gentle with myself”. That is a very hard thing to do but I keep trying. MrTDJ was great at seeing the funniest side of any situation and I suppose I learned a little something along the way. When LittleTDJ turned one, MrTDJ gifted me with a bag of Tootsie Pops (my favorite) and a note that read, “Congratulations to us on not dropping or killing the kid! Looking forward to many more years in the trenches with you.”
One year after his death, I am glad that I’m not fragile. By the grace of God, and the unwavering support of my family, my inner circle of friends, friends of my husband and my online communities, I’m still fighting through each day. I could be drunk in a corner with matted hair and the funk of forty thousand years. I’m not. I continue to love and miss my husband every single day, and perhaps one day, I may no longer need to count those days.
Taya Dunn Johnson, www.TayaDunnJohnson.com