Saturday, April 6, 2013


Sometimes grief is beautiful. After my counseling session last week, the process felt holy. I'd spent an hour talking about how much Mom means to me and how much I value our relationship. Afterward, I stood a bit taller, confident in how blessed I am and overwhelmed with gratitude. My heart felt crushed, but it was crushed by love.

Loss is such a sickly sweet sensation: something cherished is disappearing. But that makes the value increase. Exponentially.

The sad, empty, pit-of-the-stomach grief comes in waves: unpredictable and irregular instead of synchronized. They're not gentle waves, lapping methodically against sand. They're sea-swells, with undertow.

When I was 10 years old or so, I heard from a family friend that our local dentist had taken a vacation and broke his nose while learning to surf. The idea was absurd. Picturing my dentist (a tall, soft spoken gentleman) on a surf board was a total mismatch in my imagination. I couldn't picture swim trunks on someone I had only ever seen in a lab coat. It was hard to visualize a broken nose on a face covered by a surgical mask (when he smiled, his eyes squinted merrily below bushy eyebrows). What a powerful wave it took to level him. What a sandy, salty, somersault that must have been.

Heartache sneaks up on me in the same way. One moment I'm basking in the sun and sea spray; the next I'm spitting seaweed and blood.

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