We’ve all said it, over and over: on this day, one year ago, a light went out.
And yes, it’s true in so many ways. But what if….
What if, in the moment she died, her light did not go out?
What if it split into a million tiny pieces, and flew all over the world, to inhabit those of us lucky enough to be loved by her?
That is what I have come to believe: that we don’t have Lauren, but her love and her light did not die with her. We have them, each of us, and we can choose to put them back into the world. We have to love each other, and love other people, and do kind things, and smile at babies and pet every dog we meet, and hug awkward children.
We have to be the light, for one another, for ourselves, for the world.
And so, today, on the day we lost Lauren, here are 10 ways we can keep Lauren’s light alive:
- Be a friend to animals. Have pets and take very good care of them. Spoil them a little. Make sure they are always well fed, that they have clean, full water bowls (or buckets), and a warm, dry, safe place to sleep. Keep them healthy and properly exercised and thoroughly socialized. If you can’t have pets, support animal rescue organizations with your time or your money.
- Never stop learning. Believe in your own ability to learn new things. Find a class or a group or an online forum. Watch YouTube if you have to. Ask questions. Call friends who know things. Google. Lauren doggedly pursued new skills and knowledge, even when it was hard for her, even when it led her down long internet rabbit holes where each step referred to another thing she did not know how to do. Usually, after 3 or 4 rabbit holes, she called me and we googled together, laughing.
- Make yourself a family of people who love you and love each other. Don’t limit yourself to relationships forged by blood or marriage. Make family out of people who get you, no matter how they come into your life. Lean on them and let them lean on you, and make sure they can lean on one another, too. You never know when or how much they will need each other.
- See people clearly. See their flaws and weaknesses and rough spots, then find the good. Lauren saw the good in everyone – the bright, shining places that we ourselves often didn’t even know about – and because she could see the good, she forgave the bad more easily.
- When you find the good in someone, point it out — to her or him, and to other people. Remind them over and over again of their own beauty and brilliance. Lauren saw things in each of us that we didn’t even know about ourselves, and when she pointed those things out, we discovered our own strengths.
- Coach. Not everyone has a sport like Lauren had volleyball, but everyone has a skill. Find a way to share that skill with others. Share it generously, with anyone who wants to learn from you, not just the best and brightest and most talented.
- Be kind to children, both your own and other people’s. Build relationships with the kids in your community. Advocate for them. Give them a safe place to hang out, and a safe person to talk to.
- See the beauty. Notice how bright the moon is, the way the sun sinks behind a hill, the first green hint of spring, the surprise of a warm wind on a dark night. See the magic of the falling snow even as you dig out your car or shovel your sidewalk. Lauren made blizzards beautiful even as she cursed frozen water troughs.
- Know yourself, and be at peace with what you know. Do not apologize for loving reality television or cheap wine or cheesy books. Be who you are, laugh at yourself, and enjoy whatever brings you pleasure. Lauren let the world stop every week for The Voice, and one summer painted her nails a million different colours, just because it made her happy.
- Smile at the people you love, from your heart, and with all your heart. Lauren had a way of lighting up when someone she loved walked into a room, smiling in a way that put her whole soul on her face, and damn, it made you feel good. It made ME feel good.
I miss Lauren. WE miss Lauren. I miss her laughter and her friendship and her love. I miss being loved by her. The missing will never stop, but the love and the light won’t stop, either.
We don’t have to be Lauren.
But we can be the light.
We can be the love.
Please visit Miss Night Mutters to read more of Amy’s thoughts.