I spend a lot of each day in hiding, having realized that there’s a time and a place to share my sorrow. But I try to be real, at least with myself, in my private time. Burying my feelings only allows them to gain power and seep out sideways at some later point in time. Today I’m struggling with bitterness, the one emotion that keeps sniveling its way in, no matter how hard I try to battle it.
Love and time are the two most important concepts that I try to keep in the forefront of my life as I go forward after Ben’s death. One of my new friends from my support group has encouraged me to share her mantra, what keeps her going to get through each day while combating her grief over the death of her son. When she begins to sink, she tells herself: “Just keep going….take this minute to do the next loving thing.” What a wonderful mantra to live by, using my love and my time to make my little circle a little bit better.
Being a numbers freak, I’ve figured out that there are 1,440 minutes in each day. That gives me lots of opportunities to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.” Ben died a year and 9 months ago. According to my handy little calculator that I pulled out of my cupboard, the clock tick-tocked 1,440 minutes in each day, 43,800 minutes in each month, and 525,600 minutes in the first year after his death. Get your calculator out and you can compute that over 923,000 minutes (yes, that’s nearly one MILLION minutes!!) have passed since Ben’s death.
I really need to take a few minutes to spew the ugly bitterness within, to allow room for more loving thoughts in my head. I treasure those who have willingly come into my life since Ben’s death and those who have willingly stayed. They have made me feel loved even on my darkest of darkest days, and they have taught me that it is possible to find balance between joy and sorrow. A little bit of that mixed in with a whole lot of that. I will never, ever turn my back on any of them because they have taught me what love is. In contrast, those who haven’t taken a minute out of their month or their year to contact me have taught me what a lack of empathy is. If I haven’t heard from someone in tens of thousands (or in some cases almost a million) minutes, it might be wise if I came to the conclusion that they just don’t care about me. They’ve chosen to avoid me, to miss a lot of opportunities to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.” I am hurt. I feel abandoned by their inaction. It makes my heart hurt….even more.
So, you who came to Ben’s funeral and then walked out of my life or those of you who said “I’m here for you” or “I’ll call you,” please know that I’ve noticed. As I listen to your silence in another day, as another 1,440 minutes float into the past, I do notice that you never send a quick “love you” or “thinking of you.” It would take less than a minute, less than a second, really. But by not doing so, you have taught me an extremely valuable lesson. You’ve taught me that words can be shallow, but you’ve also taught me how precious time is. Not the time that we have left until our last day on this earth, but the time that we spend in showing others that we love them. I’ve learned how rewarded I feel if I show kindness and compassion and empathy to those whom I love. Each and every minute giving love counts. Your silence in these tens of thousands of minutes speaks volumes about you, while encouraging me to be aware of the circumstances of those around me.
I can’t remain bitter toward you who have abandoned me. That bitterness will poison me. Let me take my pain and my hurt and turn it around. Let me send out an extra whisper of love each day to someone who needs one. Let me take one minute out of the 1,440 minutes in each day and make a difference in someone’s life. “Just keep going….take this minute and do the next loving thing.” And then perhaps I can forget that you have forgotten me at some point during the last 923,000 minutes and counting.