Time

I have bemoaned time’s swift passage my whole life.  I’m a broken record, actually: I write, I talk, and I think endlessly about this.  Tempus fugit was almost the name of this blog.

And, suddenly, in the last couple of months, that has changed radically.  Now time’s crawling.  It’s been two months since my father died, but it feels like two years.  Thanksgiving, when he stood at the head of one of two tables and carved one of two turkeys, feels like even more years ago.

It’s a strange, contradictory thing: the actual days, as they pass, aren’t really any slower.  Nor are they jammed full of anything special.  Oh, yes, that first week after Dad died is a total blur, and I’m simultaneously aware that it was one of the most sacred and also the most strange weeks of my life.  And a lot has happened, since last fall – Grace went away to boarding school, my father-in-law died, my father died, my mother had her hip replaced, other dear friends and family members died.  We had special visits with our cousins on both sides, experiences inflected with both sorrow and celebration.

But everything feels so slow right now.  Full and blurry at the same time.  I’m sure this is a manifestation of grief (along with my irritability I hope).  But it’s remarkably different from how I normally experience life, which is both vivid and at high speed.

Sometimes, though, time slips in a dramatic, disorienting way.  On Saturday, Mum and I went to a family funeral (her beloved cousin, who was really her father’s younger first cousin, and to whom she’s always been closer than that familial tie would suggest; he also spent a lot of time in Marion, so was a part of my parents’ and our lives).  She stood up and read Crossing the Bar, the Tennyson poem that was read at my father’s funeral.  In that moment, as I watched her read, I felt dizzy, overcome with memory.  I felt like I was back in the church where we celebrated my father’s life, and, maybe even more, I was on the back porch with him as he quoted the poem from memory in post-dinner candlelight. In that moment, as I watched Mum read (beautifully, though I could tell she was emotional) time flew again, ad I thought of this post, and wondered if it was true.

It is, though.  Mostly, everything feels like it is moving incredibly slowly.  I’m struck by how far away life last fall feels.  I suppose it’s that, more than slowness, actually, that I’m keenly aware of.  And maybe that makes sense; the dual deaths of Matt’s father and my father cleaved our lives into a before and after.

The only way I know forward is to do just that: to move forward.  To let myself marvel at the tricks time plays on me, at how long ago it feels that Dad was here while he simultaneously sometimes feels so vividly present.  I think, several times a day, of the email my father sent to Grace after her other grandfather died, in which he asserted that the only thing to do is to face forward and grab the future with both hands, even if it hurts.”  Indeed. I’m trying.

I do have moments of noticing – often captured these days on Instagram. Life is no less beautiful; what’s different is the lens through which the world.  I trust that things will return to normal, but I also know it will take a while.  Until then, I’m going to let myself move ploddingly through my days, observe what startling joys I can see (alongside the numerous, and inevitable, moments of stunning sorrow). Dad believed in the value of new experiences, of that I’m certain.  I don’t know that he’d thought through this last, and most definitive new experience he would offer me, a literal change in how I move through the world. But it’s undeniable, this impact, and I’m trying to get used to it.


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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh my dear Lyndsey, as you well know, the only way out is through and you may not even want to get out because of what it means you are leaving behind. Please know that there are so many prayers heading your way for peace❤️

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  2. Elizabeth
    Posted January 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I want to let you know how normal and right this all seems to me. I remember the year after my mom’s sudden death as the longest, slowest time of my entire life; by the time I reached the one-year anniversary I felt like I had lived a thousand lives in the 12 longest-shortest months of my life. “How,” I wondered, “can I go on living the rest of my life this way, without my mother?” But the second year went by quicker, something I truly didn’t think possible. I still miss and think about my mother every day, a feeling that is especially acute when I face subsequent losses, even ones that have nothing directly to do with her (or even me, sometimes). I am reminded that every subsequent loss is a reverberation of that original one. My thoughts are with you.

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  3. Pamela
    Posted January 30, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m at the dmv reading this so I identify with time’s slow passage … but more so that time itself has a speed. Thank you for showing this to me over the years. You’ve done it so spectacularly!

    I’ve been thinking of you so often and of the weight of grief on you this winter. I know it’s been a very heavy time. I know you already trust that the light will return so this is just another reminder that it is already on its way to you. Xo

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  4. Posted January 30, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your honesty, dear friend. These words are wise and heavy and beautiful. Thinking of you. xo

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  5. Anya
    Posted January 30, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    My father died too soon and too suddenly, of head trauma from a fall, and I remember feeling like my new world had a translucent curtain across it, which, if I could only pull it back, would let me back into my old world, the world that looked just like the new one but that still had my father. I also remember noticing all the stupid stuff that was still around even though he was gone—the condiments from his fridge that wound up at our house, or the bazillion packs of tissues he kept around (allergies!) that our family wound up gradually using up. The ache in your chest and the feeling that everything is kind of heightened and dulled and surreal eventually does go away. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

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