Tuesday, December 13, 2011

good grief

They say "grief comes in waves." "Grief moves through you." I wonder why these have become the catchphrases for understanding grief. Maybe we imagine we feel grief washing over us, receding, and coming back to smack us hard again when we least expect it. Or we see it moving into us for processing and then moving on over time.

I say grief lives in us. It becomes us, like a laugh line or a gray hair.
Really it doesn't come and go at all. Look in the mirror. It is a part of you now.
You will find it at that cellular level where everything lives that makes you who you are.
You may know the exact moment it got there or maybe you aren't sure when it showed up, but you know when you feel it.
Some days it hangs heavy like a cloudy sky - hot and humid, cold and dark.
Other days it flares like a painful memory from a time before you were really old enough to remember.
It is fuzzy, light, suffocating, and temporarily forgotten.
Grief settles in, not in an evil way, but in a way that is like an old friend to remind and to teach you for the rest of your days.
It changes your composition. It takes the place of old ideas, convictions, and fears that were never really you.
It asks you questions you don't have answers for.
It is patient. It knows it is not going anywhere. 
It won't stop asking until you know. It will never let you forget.

I find myself consumed with forming answers to grief's questions about things like forgiveness, judgment, regret, empathy, and happiness.
But it's the grief that whispers this word in my ears. Transcend. A word that tingles my senses.
It has already taught me not just to answer, but to ask myself new questions.
The most important questions.
It's slowly teaching me to recognize what I probably knew all along but didn't see.

I don't remember when I stopped fighting the tides and wishing away time so the grief would go.
At some point I took it by the hand or it took me.
Now I look at it in my face every single day with the sort of comfort that comes from faith.
And I know that because it is a part of me, the grief can be good.