Erin's Journals

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Just a thought… The fact that suffering, mundanity and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable. [Mari Andrew @bymariandrew]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

So heads up: I’m going to post a journal here Monday, but I wrote and shot it this week. Why? Because tomorrow I’m going for some dental surgery, so I’ll be talking, chewing and, well, doing everything more carefully over the next few days. If I swell up like I did with wisdom teeth removal, I’ll look like a chipmunk. I promise to take a picture, though, because I’m always good for a laugh, especially at myself.

You know it’s okay to laugh, right? That was one of the hardest things I had to practise after we lost Lauren – that laughing wasn’t disrespecting her or a sign that our devastation was anything less than total; it was us healing and living our lives in the best and fullest ways we could.

I tell the story in Mourning Has Broken of watching on the PVR the last week of David Letterman’s Late Show. He wrapped up his run there in May of 2015 and when we took a breath and finally got around to watching, Rob and I found ourselves laughing. And then looking at each other because it felt like screaming in church. Just so unnatural – and yet it was good. Like the first time you resume your sex life when you’re grieving. Yeah, it’s a thing. And if nobody is talking about it, they should. Don’t put pencils in your ears, I’m not going there. (That was for Brooke). But it’s part of life, part of going on. And besides, am I going to deprive Rob of all THIS? lol

So it was with interest that I came across an article on that addressed the discord that I and so many others have been feeling over the past several weeks: how we go about with the joy in our lives when so many others are suffering (something to which I referred in Monday’s journal about our nature walk). But here are some things I think you’ll want to hear.

Guess what? Having guilt is a totally human reaction to the conflicts and pain in the world. I had it during Covid when so many families were separated, while ours came closer. So I get that in a deeply familiar sense (in more ways than one).

You may ask yourself “Am I being complacent?” “Am I doing enough?” and those answers are found in whatever you can do. Are you doing it? Perhaps you can’t afford to pay for a night or two at a Ukrainian Airbnb as thousands of Canadians are doing: renting rooms or homes they never expect to visit, just to send money to their owners. Brilliant! Maybe you’ve found a way to give – perhaps through listening to Drift with a Ukrainian folk story released on Tuesday, knowing that with every free listen, there is money going to Red Cross Canada. There are so many ways to give, to support and not everyone has the financial wherewithal to do that.

It’s okay to feel depressed about things in your own life, feel pain over an injury or joy over a new baby, when so many others are suffering. We are complex beings. We are able to feel more than one thing at once. It’s why I don’t get it when people are so adamant and angry about putting out Christmas decorations before November 11th; veterans themselves have said that it’s fine by them for us all to feel joy and happiness. We can anticipate a happy event, while remembering and commemorating those who sacrificed. It’s why they sacrificed. But don’t @ me on this one: it’s not, to put it clumsily, a hill I’m willing to die on. I’m just pointing out how we are able to hold more than one thing in our hearts.

I feel brief waves of this with our vast love for Colin’s sister and his parents. Is it disloyal to Lauren to embrace Colin’s mom and her husband and their wonderful little girl? I mean, look at her.

Of course it isn’t. Have we forgotten our daughter? NEVER. But it is only right to recognize joy and be grateful for what we have, while also honouring and remembering what we lost. This is how we live our lives and respect those who have lost theirs. How we don’t crawl into the metaphorical grave with them. There’s plenty of time for that somewhere down the road. One tragedy doesn’t cancel out your right to feel sadness.

Maybe – just maybe – set against the darkest backdrop, we are meant to examine the perspective and be grateful for the moments that raise our hearts and spirits. Nothing is black and white and for us to miss the colours that are there is an afront to those who dream of seeing them again one day. It’s why this picture touched so many of us deeply: the hope and kindness of people who left strollers at a Polish train station, to be used by other mothers when they arrived.

#polishstrollers should be shorthand for who we are – the best and worst in us. We struggle. We roll on. We grow. We are grateful. We are human.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, March 10, 2022