Moving Forward in Life After Loss: Through Pregnancy and a Yoga Mat

Daydreaming with your friends about the future is the best. But what happens when all your plans vanish in an instant? Moving forward with my life after the loss of my best friend could flip any event into pain or crisis—like finding out I’m pregnant, or losing a yoga mat.

Andrea is my best friend. She passed away from a car accident when she was just 24. I wasn’t fully conscious about it, but I started avoiding Andrea when I found out I was pregnant. Normally I think about her every day, I dream about her, I feel her in my practice... I'm not obsessively drowning in her like right after she died, but I always feel her presence—in a good way.

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Then I saw that little line on the stick and realized I was stepping into motherhood, and I sort of placed her aside.

I couldn’t explain it, but there was something so very painful about entering this big new chapter in life without being able to share it with her. The last time I saw her, just a few days before she died, we talked about having babies. She said she was ready. She was so in love with her boyfriend and everything was so solid. I never heard her say she was ready to be a mom until that day.

"You're ready??" I said, "Right now??"

"Yes! Just imagine, a little mini-Mario! I can't wait."

"I think I need another year or two, for sure," I responded, "But we should do it together!!!"

"Imagine us two, pregnant with two little ones... They'd be best friends." she said.

The thought made me smile. "You need to wait for me!!! Help me get down the aisle first. Then we'll talk." She laughed.

I remember feeling surprised—and almost a little jealous—that she'd reached that point of knowing. I wanted to be there, too, but felt that I still had a big journey ahead to settle into myself first.

Andrea had already done that. She was as at home in her body as you possible could be, centered, calm, happy.

I was in the midst of yoga-tour-Instagram madness and barely sleeping because of stress. My back was aching, I was exhausted... I just wasn't there.

We spent a lot of time cooing with babies all over the Envision festival.

And then she died.

I had to walk down the aisle without her and all of our plans vanished, just like that. I hadn't given the conversation we had about babies any thought until months after I found out I was pregnant, when I realized just how much I'd been pushing her away.

So the next day I woke up, made tea and went into my yoga room to get my mat. Penny (my goat) was in the kitchen, so I wanted to practice there to make sure she doesn't get up to anything too crazy.

But then I noticed: Andrea's yoga mat was gone. It was always right there, next to the altar, but in that moment it just wasn't. I couldn't believe it. That mat is so sacred, so special... The thought of someone else even touching it sent shivers through my body.

Where was it??

I knew it was there between my Sweden and Seattle trips—I would always sit by the altar for a second as soon as I got home, and I even thought of rolling her mat out but I didn't. I only practice on her mat on special occasions. Maybe it became too sacred, or I was scared to even touch it.

On that day, the mat was gone and I was sent into full-blown panic mode. I texted my assistant, but she had no clue. She knew the importance of that mat, so she went into panic mode, too. It wasn't in my bedroom or the living room. The thought of someone moving it (why would anyone do that??) was sending me into such a panic, but the thought of it being gone... I almost couldn't breathe.

I checked in with my friend Olivia, who stayed in the house when we were away, but she didn't answer right away. I started pacing around the house, almost hyperventilating, opening closet doors, tearing out boxes, turning the whole house upside down.

Then Olivia texted me, "Check in the shed outside."

She had borrowed two mats from our outside shed where we have a ton of yoga stuff, and when she was putting the mats back she accidentally took the wrong one. It was a completely innocent mistake.

I ran out to the shed, found the mat on a dusty shelf, and completely broke down. Then I brought it inside and collapsed on the floor. I was crying loud, big, wailing tears of absolute, total, unbearable pain.

I missed her so much.

Then it dawned on me: I hadn't felt her presence in so long. That's what hurt.

The yoga mat is important and will always be important because it's a link to her, a way to connect. Placing my forehead down in Child's Pose in the same place I know she placed hers so many times is the closest I’ll ever get to being with her again.

But deep down, it’s just a representation of her and all the things I'll never be able to tell her.

It's the fact that she died and left me to complete our plans all on my own.

It's that I had to get married without her there to hold my hand.

It's every trip I've taken without her, every big moment, every milestone that we'll never get to experience together.

It's this baby and the fact that she was ready first. I will never get to see the look on her face or hear her squeal with happiness as I tell her the big news. She would have been the first person I would have told, or probably a tied first with Olivia, depending on who was closer by.

I hadn't allowed myself to think about her, to miss her, to bring her into my pregnancy... And that day I realized why: it was too painful, her not being here. And it took a missing yoga mat that morning for me to understand it. That morning, Olivia helped me step a little closer to Andrea again. I was so upset and hurt, but maybe it was Andre showing her presence through Livi, in a way.

I feel them both, my two best friends. One is close. One... Not as far away as she seemed. It’s up to me to keep that connection, to allow it to be. She’s still with me as I journey through motherhood, and she’s still with me no matter which yoga mat I place my forehead on.

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Moving forward with life doesn’t have to mean moving away from someone you love, even after they pass. The sacred relationship is just different—it’s no less alive or intertwined.

I’ve learned it’s even more painful to push them away than it is to collapse into tears on their old yoga mat. One leaves you feeling disconnected from a major part of you, the other leaves you knowing just how deep and unending your love with them goes. If my life has taught me anything, it’s to always choose the path of love.

Everyone feels their loved ones differently. Maybe you feel yours in the wind, the sunset, a special song or whenever you see a type of animal. If you’re not sure what is it for you, ask for a sign, keep your eyes open, and sooner or later you will feel them with you. This I believe.

I want to know, how do you connect with your passed loved ones? If you can, share some of your story in the comments and inspire our community moving through loss right now, too.

X,

Rachel

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