I wish I were about to chirp on and on about what Steve and I are planning for our third wedding anniversary, but it’s in September, and we have no plans yet. Instead, I’m thinking a lot about how I want to address the many grief-related anniversaries that are fast approaching.
I’m a somewhat superstitious person when it comes to observing significant dates. (See: my 32nd birthday.) I feel the need to somehow mark the occasion, to make it special in some way, instead of acting like it’s just another day in the life. Because it’s not just another day in the life. It’s never just another day in the life — it’s the anniversary of this major event or that memory.
That being said, I don’t actually have much experience (thankfully) with observing the anniversary of a really difficult day. On the first anniversary of my first miscarriage, I was too deep in the throes of morning sickness to really register the date, and more significantly it was only five weeks after my mom died so I was barely aware of what was going on around me. I remember feeling glad to have reached that milestone, though. And on the anniversary of my second miscarriage, I took some time to recharge at the spa — a wonderfully indulgent morning that allowed me some time to reflect on the year.
But the days coming up are different. For one thing, there’s so many days that stand out in my mind, and they are so significant that I don’t feel like I can just, say, light a candle and get on with my day. I also want to reclaim those specific dates from the grip of grief, without instilling in them a false sense of cheerfulness or optimism. I am looking for a way to observe these days with the balance of honoring the memories and standing firm in hope that feels right to me.
I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, and eventually a few things became clear. One, since yoga has played such a big part in my healing, I thought it would be a good place to start. Second, I thought that whatever I decide to do, I should do it every day between the first real significant date and the last (though I had to choose a sort of arbitrary end date; otherwise, I could continue doing this indefinitely, because at what point did the trauma of grief end?).
So what I’ve decided to do is this: practice yoga every day between July 18 (the day we got the call that changed everything) and August 12 (the day I came back to Charlottesville). I’m drawing a clear line between this yoga and whatever yoga practice I might do for physical wellness during that time; this might mean I wind up practicing twice. These yoga practices might wind up being challenging, or restorative, or somewhere in between, but I’m not going to count them as a workout. I may decide ahead of time what kind of intention to set each day or week, or where I want my focus to be, but I don’t know about that yet. (To be honest, I sometimes hear people saying that they “dedicated” their practice to a particular person, but … I don’t really know how to do that, mentally.)
Basically, I just feel like it’s important for me to take some time each day to step away from the rest of my life and remember. Remember my mom, my family, our old lives. While I won’t be able to forget the grief, I want to be focused on happy memories and try to access that ever-elusive peace that surpasses all understanding. A lot of the time I feel that my grief is beyond words — so here I am hoping to be able to express it, and my unsatisfied longing for the next life, and my intense, deep love for my mom, in the only way I really can.