Author: Michele Hiester Marcum

Good things come in tens. Bowling pins, crab legs, athletic conferences, the fingers and toes of a newborn. My birthday falls in the tenth month of the year, the New Year’s countdown in Times Square begins at ten, and the tenth anniversary of most anything is a reason to celebrate. Unless… 

Soldier Portrait

A decade. Ten very long years that have seemingly whizzed by on dragging feet since my brother left this earth. Basic math tells me there are 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day, and 365 days to a year, and yet, I cannot comprehend the physical passage of time. How can something so easily defined present such a confounding paradox? 

From birth, we are wired to consider the value of time. We are fed and encouraged to take naps on a schedule during infancy, bedtimes are regimented during youth, our days are segmented by tardy bells through adolescence, and we have a schedule to keep as we enter adulthood if we want to graduate, get a job, get married, raise a family, live the life we think we want. Every single day provides us with the same 1,440 minutes in which to cram every thought, action and choice. And in the end, there is never enough time. 

But time is so critical. 

My mom died five months ago, long before I was ready to let her go. Long before I was “over” the loss of my brother. Long before my children had time to realize just how awesome she was. Long before I had thought of all the questions I needed to ask. 

And here I am, as always, still looking for answers in this life. I write a lot about my experiences… what I think, how I muddle through and process my feelings… not because I’m anxious to bare my soul to everyone who might read the blog, but because I think authenticity is so important among survivors. My journey has been a messy, muddy road, a meandering, indirect route from once-upon-a time to I-don’t-know-where, and I’m willingly letting you hitchhike as I stumble onward. 

So why am I telling you this?  Why do I trade privacy for intense scrutiny and vulnerability? Because no matter where you are in your own journey, I want you to know that you are right where you should be and it’s going to be ok. No, it won’t be like it might have been if you’ve lost someone you love, and “ok” will mean different things to different people, but the time you have right now is as valuable as it is fleeting. 

There will be people who silently watch your grief progression, resolutely shaking their heads when they feel you’ve arrived at “Enough”. There will be those who tell you outright that you need to get over it, as though it’s simple enough to flip that magical switch. Chances are, they are just anxious for you to find some glimmer of happiness again. They mean well. 

While I write most often about my struggles with loss, I want you to know that my days are filled with joy and light and hope. I’ll never get “over” losing my brother (or my mom), but I’m getting through, and I’ve found that some of the best therapy comes in tens. Ten seconds to grab a hand or say a prayer, ten minutes to share a cup of coffee or a few random thoughts, ten miles to hug a friend or clear the cobwebs from my head. 

Be encouraged, my friends, for you are not alone.