Friday, August 31, 2012
Every Cell: Seven Years
"I heard somewhere that every cell in your body regenerates itself after seven years. So, any trauma we experience in life stays with us, on a cellular level, for seven years."
This is what I heard: there won't be any cells left in your body that know Phil after seven years. I have reflected on this conversation more times than I can count over the past 2,555 days.
With each year that passes the memories of my life with Phil become less crystal clear. I can't smell him anymore by just closing my eyes. I can't recall exactly where the top of my head came to when standing next to him in my highest heels. I don't remember the words he used every time he greeted his mother on the phone. I have to count backwards to recall whether he was alive when this baby was born or that person got married. I've lost the immediate recall I once clung to so fiercely, and that makes me wonder if my cells have forgotten him, have forgotten us. Those words uttered innocently almost seven years ago have made this anniversary of Phil's death different than all the rest.
Over the past few weeks I have been 'taking stock,' and I would like to share with you what I have found.
After seven years, I can still summon Phil's 100 watt smile in my mind's eye. 2,555 days after the accident that took his life, I cannot drive past a cyclist without uttering a silent prayer. 84 months after our last goodbye kiss, I never leave a person I love without letting them know that I do. 61,360 minutes after standing at the foot of an emergency room bed, watching the monitors attached to Phil registering no signs of life, I am more certain than ever before that life is a gift not to be wasted. 365 weeks after the word widow first applied to me, I have found a way to wear that word with both pride, and a bit of awe.
My biggest fear over the past seven years has been arriving at this day, and realizing that "they" were right. I was afraid that without the cells in my body that actually held Phil, loved Phil, walked through the world with Phil...that I would lose the essence of him. But all along my heart has told me that really losing him was not possible. The love we shared was too beautiful to be forgotten.
Turns out, I was right. Science has proven that there are some cells in the body that never regenerate...and there are others, like the muscles of the human heart, that slow down the regeneration process as we age.
"Even in people who have lived a very long life, less than half of the cardiomyocyte cells have been replaced. Those that aren’t replaced have been there since birth."~Dr. Frisen*
Music to my grieving heart...even science agrees that hearts just don't forget.
So my amazing man, you are safe inside my very slowly regenerating heart for years to come. To celebrate this news, I will give more than I take. I will keep believing that love, in its many forms, is worth the risk. I will do my best to honor you, but I will do it my way...I know you would love that. I will seize the day, savor the moment, and treat life like the adventure that it can be. I will also sit on the couch more often; read that book I have been meaning to pick up; have lunch with the kids just because; make time to babysit for my adorable nieces and nephews; and value every minute I have with Michael knowing that eventually that time will end.
All this I will do not because you died, but because you lived, really lived. You taught me that living the dream is a fluid concept. Dreams don't end when we wake up, they only end when we give up.
And, through every bit of this topsy turvy life, I will love you still.
Special thanks to Michelle for sharing her writing day with me today. *You can find the quote from Dr. Frisen at Naturalist dot com, and many other sites that a Google search of this topic will locate...trust me, I've read them all!