Friday, April 8, 2011

Does time heal all wounds?

This past Wednesday, April 6th, was the 6 year mark of the loss of Mike Maybroda.  I still remember that day very well.  I was taking an art for the elementary teacher class.  April 6th I was meeting with my final project partner.  After class we headed over to Sykes Student Union to work.  I'll never forget as fellow Friar Steve Vescovich met me in a stairwell.  He stopped me and said, "dude this sucks!".  I was confused. He went on "...we lost Mike".  At this time I was Vice President of the Friars' and with my position on the exec board my mind thought that he had dropped out of the Friars' Society.  Still, Steve continued.  "...Mike died in a car accident this morning".  Wow.  I felt like I was hit in the chest with a cannon ball and thrown back into a wall.  I was definitely in shock.  I left Steve and told my project partner that we should get back to work.  She was amazing.  She grabbed me, looked me in the eye and said "No!  Your friend just died.  We're not working on our project right now".  She left as more Friars gathered around the Sykes.  A few moments later I was on the 2nd floor when I saw Dr. Herb Lee, our faculty advisor.  Also at this time, our president was out-of-state for a few weeks on a National Guard drill leaving me as acting president.  Herb stopped me and said in only a way Herb Lee could (if you knew him, you probably know what I mean) "Mr. President, by now you know what happened.  You have to tell everyone".  WHAT!?

Mike and I were part of the same candidate class in the Spring of 2003.  That means we joined the Society together.  We went an entire semester forming a close bond as brothers.  It's no secret that Mike and I had our differences by the end.  It's also no secret that many of those differences were my own fault, though I didn't see it that way at the time (I was far too wrapped up in my own pride to see it).  So, I now had to tell our entire active brotherhood that one of our own brothers was gone.  Not only that, I now had to send an email to hundreds of alumni brothers to pass on the news.  I sat in my office just staring at the computer trying to figure out how and what to say.  I so desperately wanted someone else to do it for me.  I was soon joined by another Friar, Rob Essaf.  We sat there weeping over the loss.  The office next to ours was for the Catholic Neuman Center.  This happened to be one of the times that Father Sam was in the office.  He heard us and gently knocked on our door - not knowing either of us - and sat down and prayed with us (I get a bit defensive when people say that no Catholics are "real Christians" because Father Sam clearly had a heart of Christ [topic for another day]).

As the day went on, West Chester University was good to us.  Many of us sat in Dr. Bricketto's office and were finally welcomed to have the theatre as a meeting place.  Administrators were constantly offering us hugs, encouragement and shoulders to cry on.  So many of them kept telling us that "time will heal all wounds".  We've probably all heard that before too.  This was not my first encounter with death and would not be my last.  In the 6 years since then, I have lost 5 close family and friends.  Some were expected, others were not.  And I've so often been left asking does time really heal all wounds?

Six years later and I still miss Mike.  There were first some intense feelings of guilt.  I remember though, the night that Rob Essaf pulled me aside and told me something that Mike had told him.  He said, about me, that despite our differences, I love that guy like a brother.  And I know he did.  Mike helped me through some tough times.  We had some real hear-to-hearts with one another.  He used to often tell me "smile man, it's not the end".  I stopped by Mike's grave on Wednesday.  I still miss him like it happened yesterday.  Did six years heal the wound?  I don't know.  I am not crippled by my grief.  I moved through the various stages of grief.  I have a long time ago accepted that he is gone and not coming back.  So, maybe the wound has been healed in time.  But time itself?  I don't think so

There is no magic number of years or months or whatever that all of a sudden you're just better.  Grief takes time.  It hurts.  It's hard.  And that's okay.  But it does get easier.  Maybe we just have a bad perception of what it means to heal the wound.  I think that I will always miss Mike.  I will probably always think of him on April 6th.  But I don't think that that means there is still an open wound.  But as time has gone by, I can honestly say that I'm okay.  A healed wound does not mean that the loss is forgotten.  Maybe this looks different for different people.  Maybe as I grow older it will look different to me too.  

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