We're coming close to five months. Five months.
A lot can happen in five months. And I'm learning, sadly, a lot cannot yet take place.
I'm learning so much in this journey - things I never expected to learn, in ways I never wanted to explore. But one lesson - on behalf of myself and anyone who has ever experienced great, wrenching loss - is how truly long the healing process takes.
Six months ago, I might have thought that five months after loss, a person might begin to see more sunshine, might be ready to handle more, might be ready to piece things back together.
In some ways, this is true.
I do see more sunshine.
I laugh more than I cry.
I don't sleep as much; if I slept on a newborn schedule in the early days without Robb, I'd say I'm nearing the preschool stage. I can handle more of the day, but I really need to rest every afternoon.
Sometimes, I can think more clearly, and I see glimpses of my professional brain.
I've finished one editing assignment in the last five months. (One. I used to do at least five a week.)
Some things are easier, by the grace of God and the blessing of medicine.
But some things are still hard. Harder than I would ever imagine.
I still can't fall asleep easily at night. My mind races with remembering.
I haven't been to the grocery store, except for a quick stop for bread and milk. The task of planning a menu, cutting coupons, making my list, venturing every aisle, and putting it all away at home... the very words on the page overwhelm me.
Depression is real. Fatigue is debilitating.
It's hard to find me in this mess, although sometimes I see surprising, encouraging snapshots of who I will become again someday.
I haven't cooked a meal in five months.
I can wake my children in the morning, get them dressed for the day, enjoy breakfast together. I can tuck my kids in bed, I can bathe them, and I can do bedtime stories. But I cannot yet handle a full day with them. I must be by myself - literally by myself - for much of the day, in order to have the endurance to offer them my best for the late afternoon and early evening.
I am learning how to pace my physical strength, how to play my chips carefully to make them last as long as possible.
But I'm also learning that emotional exhaustion is far more depleting, and it can zap my physical strength with lightning speed.
An hour with a friend? Even someone who is safe, whom I trust, whom I deeply enjoy? The task of engaging in conversation will take its toll for nearly two days.
It is a horrible contradiction to miss the ones I love and yet not have the strength to be with them, to long for a day alone with my sons and know that my body can't keep up.
I had no idea this is what it was like; I had no idea it takes this long.
I had no idea.
Some things are better; some things aren't yet. People assume it's time to put the pieces together. In gentle optimism and a glance at the calendar, some believe I should be ready for things I really just can't do yet. I really just can't.
In all honesty, this whole journey is still so hard, even five months later.
To anyone who has walked this journey before me, I tip my hat and lend my heart to you: your journey was harder than I ever imagined. There was no way I could know.
There is no timeline.