February, with Valentine’s Day, is a great time to take a survey of where I stand on my love meter. Am I on the high or low side this year?
In order to do that I have to take myself back to what I call Ground Zero. For me,Ground Zero was in April 1983 when my 17 year-old son Scott was killed in an automobile accident. That boy was the love of my life. At the time of his death I wondered if I would ever be happy again.
As with my love meter your love meter may have been impacted by a loss. Yours may not be the loss of a loved one but may be related to other events such as loss of a relationship, loss of a job or even loss of a dream. Dealing with loss takes time and in fact three or four times. I’ll illustrate this point with the following Banana Yogurt Story.
After Scott’s death grocery shopping was a painful experience. The first time I went shopping I just tossed things into the grocery cart without much thought, avoiding people that I knew as they avoided me. The task to be done today I told myself was to “push cart, lift items, place in cart and get out as soon as possible.” I had shopped thousands of times and I knew that I could, by shear force, do it again.
That first trip to Safeway I found myself in great pain as I tossed food into the basket. When I got to the dairy counter I selected eggs and milk and then tossed in 10 cartons of banana yogurt. I then trudged to the checkout counter, happy to have another task under my belt.
Several days later, I again ventured back to the market. In preparation for my trip, I checked the kitchen for things I might need to put on the grocery list. As I opened the door to the refrigerator, I shocked when my eyes locked on the same 10 cartons of banana yogurt that I had purchased on my last trip.
I was stunned into utter silence as tears welled up in my eyes and trickled down my face and the reality hit. Scott was the only one who ate banana yogurt. I quickly tossed the cartons into the garbage can and quickly crossed banana yogurt off my list.
On my second trip to the grocery store, I again labored through the isles in a fog. After having a vaguely familiar face stare at me across the produce counter, I quickly turned and pushed my way toward a distant corner of the store. After collecting myself, I began shopping again. When I got to the dairy counter, I selected a carton of cottage cheese while looking sadly at the banana yogurt. As I rolled by, I felt a wave of grief and my nose and eyes began to run. I longed to put just one or two cartons in the basket.
As the days passed, I again needed to go to the grocery store. When I opened the refrigerator I felt an empty pit in my stomach as I looked at the second shelf, which contained no little boxes of yogurt displaying a jolly little yellow banana. I felt a huge lump in my throat but I didn’t cry. I merely folded my list and put it into my pocket.
This was my third trip to the grocery store and parking and shopping seemed to be a bit easier. When I got to the dairy counter I again felt a lump in my throat, but I didn’t cry. In fact I picked up a couple of cartons of strawberry yogurt which I knew were favored by Heather, Scott’s 14-year-old sister.
On the fourth trip, shopping began to feel routine and a necessary task. So like my experience with banana yogurt, after loss you must deal with the firsts, seconds, thirds and fourths before tasks again become routine in your life. The activities that you repeat daily or weekly like shopping and going to work will become routine in the first year while others like Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and even death days only happen once a year and thus take more time. Some events happen only once in a lifetime like a wedding or a graduation.
Where am I today on my happiness quotient? I am pleased to say that I am on the high side this year, and I would ask you to take a look at your life and assess your Ground Zero. Where are you today as far as getting your love quotient? Give yourself a Valentine and look for areas where you can bring love into your life.
Gloria Horsley 2012