I love words, the sound of them, the way they dance in my mind. But some phrases bring me to a stand still, they punch my soul and my heart feels suspended in time. This is one of them. When someone casually said that something felt life it was ‘a lifetime ago’, it was all I could do not to blurt out; ‘yes, it was, Jane’s lifetime ago.’
I know it is just a phrase, I know it means, it feels like a long long time ago. But I equally know the power of words to heal or to hurt. When we use words casually, without thought, our throw away sounds can cause pain, when we did not mean to. I am usually aware that I do not know where other people are on their journey through life, I do not know what sorrow or hurt they are carrying.
I have a friend who prefaces some sentences with; ‘I don’t mean any offense’ or ‘I can’t find the right way to say this.’ They do this to prevent offense or judgement and I appreciate their openness with their communication struggles. Many people I know communicate more carefully or more openly and honestly because of their autism. I try to be both careful and honest in my words and I have a strong preference to be friends with people who are also careful and honest or open.
Part of that carefulness, was not responding to those three words that meant such different things to the speaker and to me, the listener. Jane’s lifetime ago is a three and a half months ago. Jane’s lifetime ago, I had a wife, a life-partner, a best friend and the world had one more amazing selfless person. Jane’s lifetime ago, I was one half of Emma-and-Jane or Aunty Jane-and-Aunty Emma. Now, I may wear a wedding ring (her ring) but I do not have a wife, there is no Emma-and-Jane, there is just an Emma.
In this lifetime, this is not my first loss and will not be my last, loss is a part of life. But it is my first loss that changed my status, wife to widow, part of a pair that was seen as ‘one’ by so many, to the left behind part. The first where language is painful. I have not used the word widow a second time, until this post. It hurt too much the last/first time.
Whilst so many people are suffering in this world, at this time, I think I am going to be even more careful in the use of words. I don’t want to inadvertently cause pain to someone who may be struggling with their physical or mental health or their anxiety for someone else’s. Stay as safe as you can, be kind to those around and think about how your words, that you may think are casual throw aways, may impact those around you.