Is it weird that I had those upbeat posts after all the grieving I did up to Lauren’s birthday?

Maybe? Maybe not?

I’ve learned so much since losing Lauren. One of the most important things, I think, is that grief is an individual experience. And that it’s ongoing. You don’t stop grieving just because you have to get on with your life. And you don’t stop living just because you’re grieving.

The past year has been a hard one, because I’ve never really grieved before. When my great-grandparents died, it was a distant grief for me, a grief that belonged to other family members, those who really had lost significant people from their lives. Not to say that my great-grandparents were insignificant to me, but they weren’t – I don’t quite know how to put it into words. They were a part of my history, part of a past that formed me before I even knew it. For children, it’s hard to think past the present, but I knew, innately, that my great-grandparents would not be around in my distant future. They were doorways to the distant past, which is also something that children don’t really spend much time thinking about.

That’s unfortunate, because since becoming an adult, I’ve often wished that I knew my great-grandparents better. My children will never meet them; I’m in the last generation that knew them. And there’s so very little of them to pass on to the next generation.

But I was talking about grief. Specifically, my grief for the loss of Lauren. I wrote the weekend posts several days before Lauren’s birthday, because I was afraid I would be so overwhelmed with grief over the weekend that I wouldn’t even want to look at my blog. There were moments – hours, even – when that was true. But for the most part, I felt strangely at peace.

It started on Friday. I wrote Lauren’s birthday post, and then I went upstairs and unpacked her cremation urn and brought her downstairs. I couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t done it before. We want to buy a curio for her and her things, but we could have brought her out long ago. There’s always a place for her. Why we were stuck on waiting? Too painful, perhaps? But suddenly, I wanted her nearby, in the open where I could see her, where she could be present.

Having her there, in the living room with me, I felt better. Not just because I’d had my cry and done with it. I felt at ease. And I realized: I survived a year without her. I felt a little melancholy at that, but I also felt stronger. A year didn’t matter. And I understood why I felt so peaceful.

I still love her. She is still very much a part of my life. She always will be.

Death is so permanent. She’s not coming back. I can’t will her back into existence.

But I can cherish what I have, which are my memories, the mementos of her life, her urn. Her place in the family. To simply know that she’s here with us is enough. She’s with family. She’s safe. That’s all that matters.

I write a lot about Lauren, because that’s what this blog is for. I don’t speak of her very often, not nearly as often as I think of her or write about her. I grieved hard last week, I think, because I was half-afraid I would lose something of her. Some memory of her. I was afraid I would love her less.

Grief is not always rational. After her birthday passed, I knew loving her less was impossible. Years may pass, but she will always be my daughter. She will aways be with me in my heart.

That’s comforting. It makes me happy. I can survive life without Lauren. I made it through one year. I can make it through another. It took her birthday to help me understand that. Not all the days will be good days, but I can survive those too. I can live with grief.

Lauren will always be my daughter. Death can’t change that.

Love you, baby girl.