There is, unsurprisingly, a progression in grief. At its most basic it is a progression in time: it is one day since he died, a week, a month. Tomorrow it will be seven weeks. (That means incidentally that seven weeks ago today my darling Matthew was still alive and driving towards a dinner with friends in Chamonix, and that is knowledge almost too much to bear.)
So time. Through its progression the edges of my grief are softening. I do not believe that. My grief still feels raw. (I know that other people’s does as well.) But – looking objectively – I am not crying as much as I was in those first days. I am sleeping better, able to concentrate more, can do more over the course of a day.
That softening is kindly. Time has a cruelty as well. Time makes events recede, takes Matthew away from me into the past (forces me, with guilt, to walk away from him into the future). On 1st September I was in a month that Matthew did not get the chance to see. The season now has changed: this autumn will never see him, nor the coming winter, nor the spring.
And time is brushing away as well at my memories. As early as day one I was scared I was forgetting him. Kind people told me I wasn’t, that I’d never forget him, that I couldn’t. ‘He’ll always be with you,’ they said, and they were right.
But I was right as well. Because with every passing minute, hour, day, week Matthew is less clear in my mind. What ‘remembering’ meant to me in those first days, what the remembering I yearned for was, was the ability to recall him so vividly in every one of my senses that it was as though he was standing there in the room, laughing, putting his arms around me, making plans for the next day. That was what I wanted and already on day one it was impossible. I wanted a level of remembering that allowed me to deny reality. I still want that. And every day as my senses are not reprimed by his presence the vividness of my memory is getting further away. I want him back. He’s not coming back. In that sense there’s no more to say.
But I ran the park run this morning (he would have loved that); had brunch with friends (he would have done that as well); and today I’ll read and write and see more friends, and time will continue its softening and its blurring in tandem. That’s it. That’s the way it goes.