Erin's Journals

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Just a thought… Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. [Pema Chodron]

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

Welcome in. I thought I’d move the journal up to Wednesday this week because, after a lot of talk and some big changes in our lives, I’ve come to a decision that a lot of people in grief come to – and it’s a good one, I think. And March 24th is the perfect day to tell you about it.

Because Rob and I, and by extension, Lauren and even her little family – then and now – have lived such a public life, something for which I’m very grateful and always will be, there are big days on our life’s calendar. One is May 11th – the day in 2015 that Lauren, our daughter, died.

But the other big one is the one we choose to celebrate today, which marks 30 years since Lauren was born at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. And from here on in, I’ll not be sharing memories or memes, pictures or thoughts on May 11th. Because it’s time. Time we marked the happiest day of our lives, and push the hardest one into the shadows.

Rob and I had a long talk about it this week. I know that on social media – especially Facebook – it’s all about the memories. But here’s the thing: I am done with sharing our sadness. I no longer want to pull you back into where we were that day; not when we’ve found so much more happiness in our lives since 2015.

In the past year, our grandson, the sweet seven-month-old boy she left behind that day after Mother’s Day, who is now six years old, has moved to within a few kilometres of us. We see him so regularly he has his own room, he’s set up with everything that he needs for sleepovers (and then some). Our house echoes with laughter and shouts of excitement over hockey games and Bingo wins, there’s mud, and chalk dust everywhere, along with library books, rocks, baseballs – you name it. In the past few months, Rob has even taught Colin to skate and to ride a bike without training wheels: all of the things he wanted to do with and for our grandson – and hopefully Colin’s sister Jane, our granddaughter – one day.

We have, as my book title puts it, “reclaimed joy.” And Colin now knows his story: our story.

This past Family Day, Colin was helped in drawing his family tree. Once his mom and dad had explained where he came from and who we are in the whole big picture, they asked him how he felt. And he said, “I’m really happy!” Puzzled (as we were when we heard) they asked him why. His response? “Because so many people love me!

He couldn’t be more correct. But here’s the sweetest part of all: in conversations that followed, Colin realized that Lauren will forever be 24, as she was the day she left us. And he expressed sadness that she would no longer be celebrating birthdays. So…today, we’re going to her bench in Sidney – the one with a plaque on it remembering her. We’ll leave some tulips, and later, with his whole family here, we’ll have a little party and light the candles on this cake.

In so many ways, Colin and the generosity of the spirit of his mom Brooke and, of course, his dad Phil, we are indeed reclaiming joy. So, no more May 11th mentions – just quietly in our hearts – but we are going to celebrate this day from now on. This is what Lauren would want – all of this.

Today, instead of marking the day our lives went dark, we are lighting the way to a happier and more joyful future.

Rob WhiteheadWednesday, March 24, 2021