Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | December 1, 2018


Time has been different – in every respect – for 5 years.


Last year my daughter, Maggie, and I wrote about the day after Thanksgiving. It’s the day her mother, my wife, had a massive stroke. It’s the last time she spoke. It’s the day that took her to the hospital where she would die days later. Last year Maggie wrote that grieving brought herself to a place where she could hold back her tears. I wrote about the growing gratitude I have for life as it is. Today, November 29, 2018 is Year 5.

I knew Nellie Katherine for 41 years. Now, she’s been gone for 5 years. Any five of our years together was a significant amount of time to us. Now, such a length of time actually has transpired without her? It can’t be so.

When she died, I couldn’t imagine five years. Seriously. I couldn’t think that far in the future. I didn’t know if I’d survive that long. What I couldn’t conceive then, is what I find challenging to grasp now. Five full years.

The five years are a different time than all time in my life before then. They aren’t regular years in any sense of my understanding of time. They had all the same seasons, holidays, family observances, etc. But, they weren’t normal years. They were all marked by her absence.

The power of her absence says more about her than our missing her says about us. She made quite an impression. She loved selflessly, fiercely, and passionately. Nellie Katherine isn’t forgotten by people close to her. For her family, or so it seems to me, sometimes it’s like she’s not gone – really. It’s not creepy, because it’s about how powerful her presence was. Her mere shadow speaks loudly to the living.

This year I wrote a book, “A Grief Felt,” to share four and a half years of one journey – hopefully, to serve someone else.

The two grandchildren she never knew and their big sister who was a baby when she passed, can’t carry the memories of her the way we do. Three other grandchildren have fading childhood memories. That’s part of what makes these five years so strange. Her memories are so alive to the adults who knew her. Her entire being is only oral history to the others. How can she be so present and so absent at the same moment?

I don’t understand this passing of time – it doesn’t fit the memories of all my life before. Much of it was distorted by mourning and grief. Time itself is different. Yet, I’m truly grateful, peaceful and content to have this time alive here. I’m humbled and happy. I’m living life. Courting. I just can’t comprehend the time that passed, how long it is, and the very nature of the time itself.

5 years.



  1. Reblogged this on sonofbluerobot.

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