This week’s love letter is longer than usual and was very difficult to write. It is dedicated to two of the most special people in my life, and I hope they can hear me reading these words to them since they’re not here to read it themselves.
We are more than half way through the year, and it has been a wild ride so far. So much has happened. I’ve grown so much. I’ve been letting you in on all the wonderful and positive changes that have happened in my life this year. But I never told you why I chose to make them.
Over a six-month period last year I was a sponge for information about wellness. By ‘wellness’, I mean diet and nutrition. I mean yoga and active living. I mean spirituality and meditation. I mean building confidence and busting through fears. I mean self-love and gratitude. I read piles and piles of personal development books, I scrolled through blogs and newsletters daily, I spent hours watching health-related documentaries.
I did all this rather secretly and never declared an intention to really do anything drastic or noticeable. However, seeds were planted. Ideas were born. I learnt the how’s and the why’s – and for some reason I seemed to be waiting for some reason to just do it, then!
That reason came around Easter. I lost someone who I couldn’t imagine living without. I saw him disappearing from us over a period of time, his once so great mind being taken away by dementia. I saw him struggling to keep up with life, to keep up with us. He so wanted to be there, to talk, to interact. I saw his eyes alight with love when he looked at me even though he didn’t necessarily process what I was saying to him.
Then I saw him lifeless in a hospital bed and my heart broke in a million pieces.
Photo: Lars Berg
My grandfather on my mother’s side was the kindest and smartest man I knew. I grew up next door to him and sometimes it feels like I spent half of my childhood sitting in his lap. He showed up to everything. He never missed one of my soccer games and many years after I quit soccer he still cheered on my old team and let me know how they were doing. He was ever-present in his grandchildren’s lives and God, how he loved telling stories about us… I just always knew that I was so loved and adored by my grandfather, and thinking about how I was going to go on without that love was more than I could bear.
So I decided that I wanted to find that love within myself. I got down to business and made the choice then and there that I now was the time to let all those seeds sprout. My grandfather’s death was a pivotal moment in my life. I believe so passionately that it is our God-intended right to be loved; it is our birthright. And you must, must, must first love yourself. I was so scared of feeling lack of love when he died that I went on a hell-bent mission to learn how to love myself through and through.
That was when I began my ‘30 Days of Homemade’ challenge‘, which led me to become a vegetarian. That was when I stopped playing around with journaling every now and then and started writing gratitude lists in my journal every single night. I started getting up half an hour earlier so I could meditate in the mornings and connect with myself. I stopped doing things that didn’t nourish me, didn’t serve me, and made a vow to myself that I would stop playing small in life and instead always follow my intuition. I vowed to practice my self-love muscle every single day and to do more of what makes me awesome. I started this blog to celebrate all the things I relate to joy and happiness. I decided to invest in myself.
Four months have passed and amazing things have happened. I’ve never felt better, physically and mentally, and I am in a completely different place than I was when he died (quite literally). I just wrote a post a few days ago about how much I loved settling into my new home and how grateful I was for my lifestyle changes that have enabled me to feel so great.
And then the sky fell down on me once again.
My grandmother on my father’s side suddenly passed away this week.
I know that there are as many different relationships to grandparents as there are people in the world. Some are like distant relatives you see once or twice a year; others are like an extra set of parents. My relations to my grandparents fall in the latter category. Both my grandfather and my grandmother have been such a huge part of my life, right up until they died, and they played a major role in me becoming the person I am. I feel lucky that I could talk to them about anything. Boys, school, family, friendships, dreams and hopes, life and death… no subject was too small or too big.
My grandmother took care of me countless times when I was sick as a child. She was the one my parents called when they were at a loss for what to do to help their asthmatic, colicky baby girl. I tried to take care of her too when she was sick, but I’m not like her – I don’t know what to do to make it better when someone is sick. I don’t have those skills. All I could do was talk to her and be there and listen. But when she let go this week I wasn’t there. I was 9 time zones away in a movie theater thinking about how Johnny Depp needs to find other ways to entertain us than his Jack Sparrow-routine.
I pray she wasn’t lonely and wishing I was there.
Given the candid nature of this post, I’ll be real honest with you and tell you that through my experiences with loss this year, I’ve been brutally confronted with one of my greatest fears. It is that the people I love don’t know how much I love them. That they don’t feel it from me. That I don’t show them enough. That they’d ever doubt it.
I think of my grandfather alone in an elderly health care facility, confused and scared because he doesn’t know where he is and doesn’t understand why he can’t go home to his wife. And I wonder if somewhere deep down in his heart he still knew how I loved and adored him infinitely even though he maybe didn’t know what month or year it was.
I think of my grandmother who spent the past 17 years as a widow and often talked to me about how she felt lonely and in need of company. It wasn’t possible for me to be there in person as often as she probably would have liked, given the fact that I’ve spent most of the past few years traveling and living abroad. I wonder if I managed to show her all the love I have for her and if she always knew how important she was to me.
This is why I write love letters. This is why I nag on you to do more of what makes you happy. This is why I stress the importance of self-love and nourishment in all areas of life.
Because I grew up this year, twice.
Because I learned that your life is your message to the world, so you better make sure it’s inspiring. This is not a rehearsal.
Because I think about how unconditionally loved I felt by my grandparents, and I want to do everything I can to spread more of that kind of love – firstly, by trying to encourage you to love and accept yourself completely.
My darling bestefar and farmor…. I never told you this, but when I was 19 I got my first tattoo.
It was something I had been thinking about for a long time, and it was a tribute to you – or rather, something to relieve the fear I had of losing you even back then. It is the last line of Edith Piaf’s L’Hymne a l’Amour.
Dieu réunit ceux qui s’aiment
God reunites those who love each other.
I’ll see you soon.