We have all grown up with the phrase, “time heals”. Yes when we damage ourselves physically, with time bones will fuse together again, cuts will join and the skin will heal. There may well be consequences from the damage in the form of a scar, a limp or some other symptom. So in our case where there is huge emotional damage you would naturally say “time heals”. What we mean by that is the further away in time we get from the event that caused the pain and damage, the more the emotions will resettle to a “normal” state. That is possibly true but I am starting to see another factor, “absence separates”. Think about it, in a relationship the longer we are apart from someone, the greater the feeling of separation. If both parties intentionally separate because they have no desire to continue the relationship, then I think they add a turbo boost to accelerate themselves away emotionally engaging with the other person. If on the other hand, circumstances, a job, a move or death separates people, then we do not want a turbo booster we want the biggest anchor we can find! With todays communication technology we really are not absent. My friends Skype with video several times a week to their daughter in Canada. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are able to video link with their loved ones.
So on the one axis time is healing the emotional pain of loosing Mike and on the other, the longer he is absent from this world, the greater the separation. So whilst my friend Steve can talk to his daughter Vickie this week, it maintains his emotions and emotional connectedness to Vickie. I dont know what my last words to Mike were but they were on August 31st 2009. (Oops, its several hours since I posted this. I promise I have not contacted the dead, he wne thome on the 31st of july!) The longer Mikes absence the greater the feeling of being separated. That makes me angry! I am annoyed that Mike is less and less in the forefront of my mind. Work and life are taking more and more emotional and thinking space. I hear you say “that’s good Mark, you are showing signs of healing, of returning to normal, you could not emotionally sustain that level of intensity”. For the first time I empathise with those who do not wish to be healed!
So we love the portrait Kayleen painted of Mike. After collecting it yesterday from being framed, I hung it on the most prominent wall in the house where we will see it many times during the day. Looking at photos and video clips of Mike act as an anchor to slow down the pace of emotional separation. They help to keep the emotions alive. The reality is that I love him today as much as I did when he was here with us. Does time heal, not sure? Maybe its more we learn to live with the disability. The three legged dog runs around happily playing.