I was nearly 15 when I lost my older brother to a freak car accident.
The next few years were a blur of avoiding classes at high school and replaying what must have happened the fateful, unresolved day of the crash. Where I was. Where he must have been, the pain he felt, the other cars that drove by and didn’t call 9-1-1 but stayed their course desensitized, unaffected.
His best friend, the 18-year-old who was driving, died along with him that day. The highway where the head-on collision occurred is one I still drive when I’m back home visiting my family. It is the main road leading westward out of town.
So trust me when I say this: time doesn’t heal all wounds. It doesn’t make the gut wrenching scrapes of loss disappear. There will be loves felt too strong to be snuffed out and memories too fond not to sting when recalled years later.
That’s the really admirable thing about human hearts – they feel, sometimes without permission. And we’re so lucky when they love deeply.
Time can surely help those hurting, it can offer space to grieve and process. Like when it comes to an unhealthy relationship or a friendship that proves itself toxic: time might be the greatest revealer there.
But time didn’t make my high school graduation without my brother any easier, or my first heartbreak without his big shoulder to lean into. And it surely doesn’t help every August when his birthday rolls around and I burrow so deep into my bed sheets that I lose track of it completely. I still hurt then.
Time also couldn’t console me when parents in our community expressed sadness over “drunk driving teenagers,” supposedly in reference to my brother and his friend, when toxicology reports came back negative for substances like alcohol in the boys’ blood the day of the accident.
Other loved ones did though. Their company and kindness assured me in ways that time never could. It did not end the heartache of a future without my brother but allowed me to experience love and warmth amidst the cold, relentless grip of loss.
Time is just time. The passing of days, a marker of moments, feelings.
We have to give our hearts more credit than removing experiences we’ve been through indefinitely without the hard work it takes to carry the broken within us. Our wounds will stop stinging when our hearts stop feeling over the tragedy or loss that impacted us.
Sometimes, that takes a few months with some serious self-examination. Sometimes, an entire lifetime.