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.