Time heals all wounds.

A platitude.

They make us feel better and we cling to them in difficult times. The truth, though, is that that’s all they are. They aren’t pronouncements that foretell the future or promises that pain will cease to exist. They give us enough comfort to get us through, so that when the realization comes that pain is a steed we ride through time, we’re strong enough to keep our seat.

Today is the three year anniversary of my mother’s death. Time has actually done enough to make her loss easier for me. I still think of her every day. Many times. Her favorite foods remind me. TV shows she loved. Songs. I look at pictures a lot. I remember her hugs, as if I can still feel her arms around me. I look at images of her hands and think of how comforting their warmth against my hair and forehead always was when I was sick. So much of daily life carries her with it. 

But no matter how much time passes, it won’t heal the hole she’s left in my life. It gapes there, behind every moment, a rending wound. The rending pain fades, but the hole does not close. I think that when we love someone so much for our entire lives they leave an indelible mark. And that’s good. In her final years, her own mother was with her every day still, decades after she was lost to her. Alzheimer’s actually enhanced that. It brought her hallucinations that gave her mother back to her when she needed her most. So that she went from talking to me about her to talking to her. I’m glad all the time that passed wasn’t able to take that connection to her precious mother away from her. Some people are meant to transcend loss and time. The best mothers are our mothers forever.

So time serves the purpose of softening the hard, jagged edges of grief. It gives us a measure of peace. And once the grief is no longer so sharp, it opens the door to remembrance and grace. A measure of healing lies in that place, it’s just that the healing is a lifelong process, borne in the arms of love.