I miss Lauren the most in the mornings.
There’s something about that time between sleep and wakefulness that catches me off guard. It’s as if I haven’t had time to protect myself from my own thoughts and emotions before they come flooding in. It’s as if some kind of instinct takes hold that puts my ears on high alert, listening for her cry.
Maybe it’s because her face is the first thing I see every morning, before I even open my eyes.
Every morning I have to stubbornly pull myself out of this web of grief so that I can focus on my day.
No – I don’t have to. I’m not working. I don’t have to do anything. I could hide under the covers all day if that’s what I wanted to do.
No – I choose to get out of bed every morning. Sometimes I need help from Ken. Sometimes I need a lot of help. But even so, I get up. I have my shower. I do my yoga and meditation. I say goodbye to Ken when he leaves for work. Sometimes I go back to sleep after that, if I’m still very tired. The rest of my day goes something like this: I read or blog. I meet Ken for lunch or get together with a friend. I come home. I clean or do laundry or unpack a box. I take a walk. You get the idea.
Each thing I do is a conscious choice. It’s a choice to do the right things to take care of myself. Otherwise, the temptation is to lie on the couch and watch tv all day, and I know in my heart that that’s not what I need to be doing right now.
Because here’s something interesting that I’ve observed. Generally, unless I’m thinking, “I should be sad right now. This is something I’m sad about,” I don’t feel sad. My thoughts tend to breed more emotions than I might have otherwise.
For example, we just passed the one month mark since Lauren’s birth/death. I woke up in the morning and was feeling okay, happy even. Then I realized it was November 5th. I thought, “It’s November 5th. I should feel sad about that.” And it was only after that thought that I truly felt sad about it.
It doesn’t always happen like that. There are times when sadness comes on me without any detectable thought preceding it, and in those times there’s nothing left for me to do but ride it out. But, otherwise, why should I create more sadness for myself than I already have to handle?
I’m aware that I’ll just waste my energy trying to change or control my thought process. But one thing that meditation does is help put some space between my thoughts, my emotions, and myself. And because of this, sometimes the downward spiral gets short-circuited before it even starts. If I see the emotion is happening only because of the thought, then both the thought and the emotion have less power over me.
So I choose not to be sad, at least when I don’t have to be. Because I’ve had to learn that not being sad doesn’t mean that I don’t love Lauren or that I don’t miss her. Just because I accept our situation doesn’t mean I have to like it.
But if all I do is make myself miserable, if all I do is crawl down a deep dark hole, if I spend the rest of my life guarding myself because I’m protecting a big, gaping wound – then, to me, that’s an insult to Lauren’s memory. That would be disregarding everything she meant to me and taught me.
Lauren, to me, represented living life in all its messy wonderfulness. She meant warmth, and light, and laughter. She taught me what unconditional love was. And I will not turn my back on that.
So I choose to move forward, inch by inch, step by painful step. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. And all because of her.