When John and I met, he was recently widowed, and we became friends. At the time, we believed we had navigated through our individual grief, but in fact we were running as fast as we could, meeting the needs of our kids, and deflecting. I remember when we fell in love, and I told him that I understood that he would always love Melissa; that he could love her in spirit and me in person. I remember him saying that he didn't feel loss at the times people expected that he would....the anniversaries, birthdays, etc. It was a song, a smell, a memory unbidden that would come and settle in. And it was okay. I remember the first time I understood that it wasn't my job to "fix" his grief, nor his to "fix" mine. It was complicated, confusing and wonderfully freeing.
As I drove further down the road, my hand crept to my cell phone. I dialed, knowing he was busy, but that his voice would pull me back. We chatted about our busyness, about my article, daycare, and rental properties I had looked at. Like the deafening surf at Truro, our conversation had a silent undertow. Like the waves receding, the things unspoken are intuitively understood. "I love you." "I know you" "Life is good." "we're here, now".
Where we are is a beautiful place, and I am grateful. I'm also thankful for where we've been, for the grief that lives in all of our bones, and for the joy that transcends it. Why "good grief"? Because without it's reference point, without that sense of longing and fear, I don't know that we would live as fully as we do. Good grief makes us capable of kindness toward others on their journeys. It gives us compassion for ourselves in our imperfection. It gives us cause to lean on God. It opens us up to our vastness and our smallness all at once, and it begins to shake itself from our bones as we learn to dance.