The Mathematical Equation

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.

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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