I think back to the months and even the year after the crash. I wonder, if I could go back, what advice could I give myself about what might make that time less hard than it was. Maybe nothing. But I wish I had been able to let myself take a few minutes to try and rest. There was no rest in the sense of an undisturbed night’s sleep – so often I lay awake and cried, or ran through in my mind what I imagined had happened during the crash, or how my father struggled when he was in the hospital trying to recover. I don’t think I could have stopped feeling all of that, could have quieted my mind enough to really sleep. But perhaps I could have taken just five minutes an evening to have a cup of tea, or sit still and listen to music, or play my guitar. At the time, it seemed impossible. Any five minutes doing anything not absolutely necessary seemed like time I could not afford to lose from being at the hospital with my dad. And, after he died, it seemed like time I couldn’t afford away from catching up at work, and taking care of the hospital bills and my parents’ house, and getting the estate opened, all things that truly I didn’t need to do immediately, other than perhaps the work aspect. But it all felt so urgent, perhaps because I thought if I got those things done, I would finally have some peace.
It is normal, I suspect, when grieving or trying to care for a love one after a tragedy to feel that any time for yourself can -- and should -- be put off until later. But if I could tell my former self anything, it would be to at least try now and then to stop and breathe, to stop and sit. No terrible thing will happen because of those five minutes, and it might have helped me just a little.