So back in January I really didn’t know what to do with myself.
V was in school three days a week and Lucy was gone from my arms. The only time I had spent away from sweet Lucy was a few hours here and there when I left the house (not often) and overnight when she was in the NICU for the two weeks just after she was born.
And it was January in Illinois, yuk. We had just moved out of the city so I knew exactly eight people, my sister’s family and their neighbors across the street. And I was in no condition to work.
When I think back to that time, the memories are very hazy and some stuff I just don’t remember.
But I knew I had to do something with myself. As ridiculous as it sounds to me now given the heartache we were experiencing, I decided it was the right time of the year for me to set some goals. So I started a bullet journal and did just that.
I ran across my “Goals for 2016” page in my bullet journal the other day. And I have managed to maintain a few of them. I make it to the gym regularly, cook more, and found a new job.
My other goals for 2016….well not so much. I have started several books, but I’ll admit it, didn’t even come close to finishing any of them.
Another thing I wanted to do regularly was meditate. At first, I tried to make time to meditate for ten minutes , four or five days a week. That quickly became two or three days a week and then, well you know how that goes…….
I haven’t managed to make meditation a habit yet. But the bit that I did do was calming and I learned a few things that are helping me navigate my grief journey.
I started reading a bit about meditation and its power to heal pain, both physical and emotional. The potential to heal physical pain absolutely amazes me. People that have struggled with back pain, for example, for years finally experience relief after regular meditation practice. Besides the relief from pain, imagine how empowering that would feel? To be able to conquer your own pain.
I also looked into some guided meditation videos and stumbled upon Susan Piver. Susan is a writer and a meditation coach. She started the Open Heart Project, which is a virtual meditation center.
One of her videos ,“Meditation, Depression, and Sadness” caught my eye. The topic seemed appropriate, so I listened.
Susan explains the difference between depression and sadness. Depression feels like your trapped and the world is unworkable. It’s like the world is dead and you feel nothing. Sadness however is soft, tender, and feels workable. Everything seems full of meaning and touches you.
And the best response to sadness, or any feeling you have really, is to be open to what you are feeling. Relax and let yourself feel what you feel. Lean into your feelings. Instead of pushing sadness away, hold onto it, watch it arise, and feel that feeling.
Living with a four year old offers many opportunities to practice leaning into feelings. Such strong feelings… So we’ve had lots of opportunities to practice.
I’ve always felt like Violet was young enough to not fully understand what happened to her sister, and just go along with what we told her. But I love that she was old enough to remember her. And it is becoming clearer, as she gets more articulate about her feelings that she does. She remembers her sister. She loves her sister.
In the past few weeks, Violet tells me that she misses Lucy. And it is a gift when she says that. Because all I want is to keep her memory alive, especially to Violet. Even though she misses her and doesn’t fully understand what happened to Lucy, she remembers her.
And so I lean into that painful happiness. And Violet does too.
I’ve been told and have read that the first year after you lose a loved one is the hardest. And I am beginning to feel how time does heal a bit of the pain. We’ve made it through what would have been Lucy’s first birthday. And in my head, I’ve mostly stopped counting the months, like you do with your baby.
There are lots of memories popping up though. Last fall, when Lucy was still with us, her sister picked out a pumpkin for her. They dressed together as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” for Halloween. One day, right around the time Lucy started to smile, she and I were quietly enjoying some cuddle time when I got a call from V’s school and we ended up at the ER for stitches on her chin. And the two girls spent the weekend cuddling on the couch while V got to eat lots of ice cream.
While I do feel sadness and pain sometimes, most of these memories make me extremely happy. And what I am learning to do is lean into them and the feelings that arise with them. As I lean into the warm moments, I’m noticing that we cry big tears and share big smiles and sometimes even deep belly laughs. And those are gifts too.
Now I’m wondering what other gifts meditation holds for me. I guess it’s time to find out.
My name is Lou and I am a mom of two girls living outside of Chicago. I never would have imagined this, but our oldest daughter is at home and our youngest is not. She will be in our hearts forever. Lucy was an amazing soul and we continue to learn lessons from her today.