I Sang in a Public Shower for the First Time and Cried
Musings on Grief and Jesus and Surprise Duets with Total Strangers
I am a person who experiences a wide range of emotions and feels them deeply. Recently, I’ve been feeling a lot. All of December feels like an anniversary of Haley’s passing. On top of that, I’m grieving the end of my time as a full-time freelance health writer. But that’s a story for a different Substack post.
Today, I was having one of *those* mornings. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed so to speak. I almost skipped the gym in favor of climbing into a cuddle cocoon with my blanket-obsessed hound dog.
I was grumpy and clumsy, but I pulled it together. When I climbed into the passenger seat (too sleepy to drive) I immediately started to talk about Hayley.
Jason knew I’d been thinking about her a lot because he’d been catching me in those moments of staring into space, just letting the tears roll. He does this great thing where he lets me talk about it if I want to, and he just listens. He hardly says anything, and if he does, it’s never about him or how I should feel. It’s just little things to let me know he’s listening, and that I’m loved and supported. My emotions are valid. It’s okay to cry. It’s wonderful. Sometimes, he finds me in such a state and just gives me a sympathetic glance before quietly backing out of the room, and I love that, too.
Sometimes I just want to sit with my feelings and marvel at how my grief has evolved over the past year. It’s so complex. So nuanced. Like the flavor profile of the chicken biryani Jason made for dinner last week.
Before we even pulled out of the driveway, I was talking about how Hayley’s birthday was coming up on Monday the 18th and that I might be a little extra emotional. That quickly turned into me gushing about everything I’ve been feeling about Hayley. He just listened, the way he does.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Jesus, but I didn’t bring that up during the short ride to the gym.
The Write Lauren is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I suppose it’s natural to think of Jesus this time of year. As you may know, his birthday is also coming up.
It’s not his birth I’ve been thinking about, though, but his death. Actually, the night before his death.
Maundy Thursday was always my favorite church service. It goes by many names, but it’s the night Jesus washed the feet of his apostles and sat down to the Last Supper. Even as a kid, I felt moved by the thought of this young man, so full of promise, knowing that he was about to die (such a cheerful youngster, I was). I loved how Jesus washed the feet of those who served him, then went into the garden to pray for his life, pressing his face into the earth and begging God for some other outcome.
Like Hayley, Jesus didn’t want to die. But they both managed to accept it.
It’s a lot to think about before 6am — probably why I left my fitness watch at home and almost fell in the locker room.
Even though my eyes were still red and teary when I walked into the gym this morning, my mood skyrocketed the moment I saw my husband running along the indoor track. You couldn’t have smacked the smile off my face with a slipper. Immediately, I dropped my things on the nearest bench and ran to join him.
But he saw me coming and picked up the pace.
I proceeded to chase him — for how long remains a mystery since I didn’t have my watch — and he kept pushing faster, keeping half a track between us as we lapped the old ladies who have a coffee club there some mornings.
It was almost silly. I felt like a kid, my smile stretching wider as I tried, and failed, to close the distance between us.
With all the grief, despair, and regret I’ve been feeling, there was still room for so much joy in my heart. I could feel it all at once.
I didn’t know how much I needed that run.
The smile stayed strong as I made my way to the locker room to shower — I worked up quite a sweat chasing my husband in awkward ovals.
When I got to the shower, I started thinking about Jesus and Hayley again (just pretend that doesn’t sound weird).
The radio station was playing a block of Pink Floyd, and “Wish You Were Here” came on. I started singing, which is not something I do in public showers.
And then, something magical happened. Another woman a couple of stalls over started singing, too. For a moment, our slightly off-key voices joined together:
running over the same old ground, what have we found?
the same old fears
That’s when I lost it. My voice cracked and I was crying again.
But it was okay. I just let the tears come. I was in a room full of women in various states of undress, spanning a wide range of ages and body types, all of whom have their own reasons to cry, smile, sing, and cry again. Maybe they do it all within an hour. I didn’t have to explain myself. They all just smiled at me.
As I walked out, I saw The Orange Lady. She wasn’t wearing orange today but sported a suicide awareness shirt the gym sells at the front desk. I wondered what inspired her to buy that shirt and hoped I’d have the opportunity to ask one day. Anyway, seeing her made me smile again.
“I'm glad I came to the gym this morning,” I told Jason as we got in the car. But what I meant was I’m grateful to be alive. To have the capacity to feel so many things at once, and to know that I can hold joy, magic, grief, loss, sorrow, and connection in my heart all at once and there’s still room for whatever the rest of the day might bring.
I’ve always been a very emotional being. I’ve always been unafraid to show it. For some people, it’s too much.
But for others, it’s exactly why you love me.
I love you, too.
Thank you for reading! To support my work, you can share, subscribe, and/or buy me a coffee if the spirit moves you.