It Lives in the Little Things

Today I read a letter from a daughter to her mother who had passed away of breast cancer. You can read it all here, but I wanted to share one paragraph in particular with you. Anyone who has ridden this roller coaster may relate to these words:

“I wish I had paid closer attention. The things that really matter you gave me early on—a way of being and loving and imagining. It’s the stuff of daily life that is often more challenging. I step unsure into a world of rules and etiquette, not knowing what is expected in many situations. I am lacking a certain kind of confidence. Decisions and departures are difficult. As are dinner parties. Celebrations and ceremony. Any kind of change.”

The size of my sadness doesn’t always correlate with the seeming size of the hardship. Yes, the big things are difficult – it’s heartbreaking to miss the intensity of her love; I miss her aura; I miss normal life. But at the same time, these are the things I had 26 years to take in. I know them well, I can still feel them when I close my eyes.

“It’s the stuff of daily life that is often more challenging”.

This is why the battle seems unrelenting some days. Because grief lives in the little things. And everyday there is a new little thing to face. New things to know, new decisions to make, new things to experience, without her.

To understand this is to realize that it will never be over. And this is not to bring hopelessness, but hope, and grace. It means realizing that you are a champion right now, when you make it through a day of little things. It means knowing that you will become more and more skilled at facing these daily moments, and after awhile these accomplishments will bring a depth to your life that you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Grief lives in the little things, but life has it’s home in the little things too.

To my fellow residents in the Afterwards, love yourself, right now, right where you are. This is my pledge to myself today. I will be proud of myself for making it through all the new that today threw at me. And I will consciously seek to notice the little things of today which presented sparks of life.

Waiting for Goosebumps

It took over two years before I started to feel the tingles of life again. I will be honest, I didn’t think it would ever happen. In case we aren’t on the same page, tingles are a bit different than happiness – they are like the micro-moments of happiness. They are natural responses to emotion that are closely tied to the physiological. Life-tingles go hand in hand with happiness but the way I see it, happiness requires the coming together of many natural as well as intentional factors and processes; life-tingles mostly require time. (This, by the way, is a completely made-up definition of a self-invented theory…)

After mom died I did feel emotion – I laughed and cried – but beneath those things I was frozen… numb. The world went from a dynamic, multidimensional, colourful place to a flat plane of hazy grays. So did my physical emotional reactions. I could look at the most beautiful sights (so many surround me on this island) and feel nothing. No butterflies, no warm heart, no stomach reaction. Nothing ran deep; the tingles were gone.

I  don’t exactly know how one goes about finding said tingles again; like I said, I think it just happens in time. At least it did in my case… It’s strange to remember such a small thing so clearly (though in this case the small things are the big things) but I was listening to a song and I found the beauty of it running through my bones – almost a physical vibration. It was like feeling life again for the first time – like a fresh breeze had blown through my living room and given me goosebumps.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, pay attention to the tiny physical responses that accompany the next time you feel excitement, hear a pretty song, see a beautiful sunset, or even smile… Those are the tingles. Never take them for granted.

If you know what I’m talking about and your sensitivity to the micro-moments of happiness has been dulled or flattened, I empathize greatly with you. I know that I often say this was the hardest part, but there really are many hardest parts and this was absolutely one of them. To not feel is the worst thing.

When I did my juice fast last month, my sense of taste afterwards was intense – flavours were concentrated, every bite of food tasted stronger and more delicious than I remembered it being before. To me this is a picture of the potential we have to experience life after death. I cherish every moment of being able to feel “details” because I couldn’t for so long.

Eventually, you will feel life again; it will seem impossible until you do, but you will. For now, keep listening to beautiful songs. One day you will find yourself surprised by the goosebumps on your arms ♥

Some Things Take Time