No one actually says ‘It’s time’. No one has ever said those words to me. In fact, people are still hesitant to send me pictures. They’ll email a scanned photograph from his childhood, adolescence, youngmanhood and excuse themselves.
Sorry, they say, we don’t want to open up any wounds.
What wound? I think. Oh, this gaping hole?
Don’t worry, I reply, the picture is sweet. I love it.
They cannot imagine this wound ever healing.
Once a friend told me a friend of hers felt a huge relief at finally scattering the ashes. She looked hard at me. She smiled. I made an attempt to smile back. I nodded my head. I’m guessing she bit her tongue, because she never mentioned time.
At first it is the hours that pass, then the days. Weeks, let’s be honest here, nobody marks time in weeks. Weekends, maybe; Fridays or Mondays. (You’d be surprised how weekends can lead you to understand certain religious concepts like purgatory and limbo.) Months, seasons, a year. The days marked off as firsts. First non-birthday, first light bulb changed, first holiday, first appliance broken down. One day you realize you haven’t cried for two days in a row. Another day you realize he’s been gone longer than you were together.
Still no one uses time to accuse me. They talk about how long it’s been, can’t believe it. Sometimes they will look at me – I can read the look – but still no one ever suggests that it might be time. They cannot imagine. It might even be on the tips of their tongues to say, Found someone new?, wishing to see me happy so they could stop being terrified. Then their look softens. They cannot imagine. I could tell them, but I don’t. It will never be time.