Last month, a man whose sister had just lost a young adult child to suicide asked me, "How long? How long will she be like this? When will she be ok?"
"A long time, " I said.
"But how long until she's kind of normal?"
"Umm, I don't know," I said. "Everyone is so different. For me, maybe three years until I could get through most days in some kind of fashion resembling normal."
"Oh my God," he said.
"She's going back to work," he said.
"Well, yes, you go back to work. People don't necessarily know. That you've stopped sleeping and that you cry in bathroom stalls. Or that you don't. Whatever."
It changes, doesn't it? In the last year, I have realized that I often sleep through the night now. I laugh for real. I roll my eyes again. I no longer feel murderous toward people who are living the lives we all expected to live. I am finding genuine joy in the triumphs of my surviving children.
I've "met" a woman on FB who lost her son only a few weeks ago. She is a marvel and I am in awe of her resiliency, her capacity for faith. I myself still wonder where God went. A couple of years ago, my friend Michelle sent me a book of Kilian McDonnell's poetry entitled God Drops and Loses Things. Umm-hmm.
A few days ago, a friend sent me this essay. The young woman who died of suicide was a twin, like my son. I always wonder that, too; why wasn't it enough? How could it not be enough that there was someone with whom you shared a womb? It's been ten years and her father writes that "it's getting better now."
Time is a strange thing. Not, I would say, a healing balm to all wounds. But it creates space. You take all of your pieces and lay them out, like shells laid out on a battered bench after a day on the beach, and you re-arrange them.
Into new patterns. That's all you can do, really.