Grief is a puzzling guest.
Its strokes are broad, from numb to panic, with a million shades of deep sadness in between.
Sometimes it is honest, teeming with memories and moments that were sacred and must remain forever etched in the core of our family.
Sometimes it is a liar, shouting things like, "You can't do this without him. How is one day different from another? Why even try, when everything leads to panic and exhaustion?"
Sometimes it is even more confusing and confounding, when it whispers those words instead. Lies are further misleading when they are merely whispers.
Sometimes grief is warm, welcoming, and patient, washing me with cleansing tears.
Sometimes grief is angry and mean, burning a hole in me, with no tears left in my dry well.
It tempts me to claim it as my strength. It invites me to claim this purple heart, this badge of courage: Look What Was Taken From Me. Look how I am allowed to feel, for as long as I want, without any reprimand. I am learning that there is a quiet power in holding on to hurt, and a blanket of comfort can swiftly become a security or an identity, without my even noticing.
But sometimes, grief brings joy. They are not mutually exclusive. I can laugh with my friends, tickle my boys, enjoy a good meal, and play my music loud... and still grieve that he is not here to do that with me. To hear about it all.
Joy is a knowing.
I've known joy that takes over my whole being, keeps me from standing still, spills and splashes, and makes my heart sing. For this season, grief is here, settled in, making its home, and showing me its every shade. We are becoming deeply acquainted.
But joy is a knowing. And the joy of the Lord is my strength.
I'll feel that way again.