Initially, people call, text, check in, bring coffee, make sure you eat dinner. But soon, they talk only of normal, day-to-day things. And you stand there with holes in your heart saying “Yeah, it has been pretty warm for October, hasn’t it?” as if you aren’t just learning how to breathe again. Everyone else’s moving on makes you wonder –isn’t it about time I move on too?
At first, you bring it up often –almost as if to convince people [and your own self] that it really happened. But soon, you get the sense that it’s time to stop bringing it up. Time to stop being sad. Time to be fine. This quick return to normalcy communicates that it’s probably time for you too to be normal again.
But I have this friend and we have this agreement:
We are staying here as long as we need.
An ongoing invitation to be not-okay, not-over it, not-normal for as long as it takes. She and I have experienced very different kinds of pain, but we have this need for restoration in common. And restoration of all different kinds takes time –rarely the amount of time you planned for. Maybe the best thing we can give each other is as much time as it takes.
Sometimes the best thing you can say to someone in pain is I see you, I remember what happened, I don’t expect you to be over it if you aren’t ready. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to not be okay. That the people around us haven’t forgotten our battles and bruises. So if you’re still sad, or still healing or just still breathing –you have plenty of time. It’s okay to have good days and bad days and both days, and you will. It’s okay to be right where you are. You can stay here as long as you need.