August 21, 2011
The Mathematical Equation: X equals the sum total
I made the mistake of typing in 2010, instead of 2011. I hesitated a few seconds before fixing the error. I secretly wished it was August of 2010 and Michael, my husband, was still alive. When I thought about the reality of my wish, I quickly set parameters: He must weigh at least 150 pounds, be able to cycle with his buddies, and eat his favorite foods. He must move about without using a wheelchair, have the use of both hands and feet, sleep in a bed, and above all, he must be pain free.
It’s now nine months since Michael died; the time it takes to grow a baby, complete two semesters of college, and recover from major heart surgery. It’s the time it takes for an infant to stand and for leaves to change into their fall colors. It’s the time it takes for metastatic cancer to invade and destroy one’s entire body.
When people ask me how long it’s been since he died, I tell them the date, November 16 of 2010, and they reply, “Oh, it’s still so recent.” My response is always the same, even a month after his death, “It seems like an unbearable amount of time for me.”
Time is immeasurable when it comes to grief. Often when there have been previous deaths— a parent, a child, close friends, or all of the above, the sum total (X) equals the amount of grief one suffers. The equation covers all deaths up to date, not just the most recent one, which is why it is often difficult to calculate the depths of one’s grief at any given time.