Recently I’ve been binge watching the early 2000s TV show Gilmore Girls. I have distinct memories of my mom telling me we should watch it together some day, as it primarily focuses on the relationship between a mother, Lorelai, and her daughter, Rory. Unofrtunately we never got the chance, but I’ve found comfort in watching it and thinking about her as I do.
If you’ve watched the show, you might be familiar with an episode that describes something known as Luke’s “dark day”. In this episode, Luke, one of the main characters, disappears from his small town on the same day each year, which the other townspeople begin to call his “dark day”. He doesn’t work at his diner or talk to anyone on the 30th of November each year. Lorelai, his longtime friend and now girlfriend, discovers that this is the day Luke’s dad died about 15 years prior to the particular “dark day” on which the episode takes place. He claims that he “gets into a funk” and just isn’t himself on that same day each year.
Having also suffered the major loss of losing a parent, I can understand how easy it is for grief to create dark spots in your life. Just like Luke disappeared from his small town of Stars Hollow, it can be easy to disappear into your grief. Sometimes you can’t help but allow things you once loved to disappear from your life with grief in their place.
The first anniversary of my mom’s death recently passed on February 15th, 2019 and I had my own “dark day”. I took the day off of my clinical rotation at school and I found it difficult to respond to messages from family and friends that I would have normally found comforting. I had plans on how to spend the day and found myself struggling to actually complete them once the day arrived. Originally, I planned on spending the day alone. But then my dad asked me if he could make the 11 hour drive (one-way) out to Indiana to spend the day with me and I said yes.
In the Gilmore Girls episode, Luke is struggling with the sudden need to move a half-finished boat that his father was building in a neighbor’s garage. This elderly woman is moving and can no longer provide Luke with a place to keep his dad’s boat. Upset and with his “dark day” looming less than 24 hours away, Luke tells the woman to have the boat hauled off and destroyed. But Lorelai has other plans and saves the boat, storing it in her garage in case Luke might want it later on when the stress and sadness of his “dark day” have passed. At first Luke is furious when he discovers what Lorelai has done, feeling an encroachment on his “dark day” and the time he sets aside each year for mourning. But he eventually comes to realize that Lorelai had his best interests at heart and encourages her to “keep thinking like she thinks”. He visits the boat and seems almost at peace with at least some of what is troubling him by the end of that particular “dark day”, finding comfort in things his dad once loved.
I think the lesson here is to remember to always let in the light, even on your darkest of days. Even when you feel like grief, or another dark cloud in your life, is swallowing you whole, there are still glimpses of light to be found. The smile of a friend. The soft fur of a canine or feline companion. A boat that your dad started building. The hug of one parent on the day you lost the other. While you must acknowledge the darkness in your life, don’t let it smother the light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)