The Comfort of Grief

Two weeks ago on a sunny Thursday afternoon, I cried in my backyard. I was having an at-home happy hour with my husband. We’d spent two days cleaning out our basement and renting a truck to transport the recycling and trash to our local recycling facility.

While cleaning the basement I found pictures of my best friend Lisa and a birthday card she gave me that said “to my favoritist,” which isn’t a word but, nevertheless, I found enchanting.

Lisa died in 2017. Finding words she’d written, even made-up ones, is like finding buried treasure. Gems of our friendship cultivated over 20 years. But finding those pieces of our friendship only serves to remind me of how difficult living through this pandemic without her really has been.

I cried that afternoon telling my husband how much I missed the comfort of her friendship. How much I longed for that comfort more than ever while dealing with the complications and ramifications of this pandemic. How I longed to talk to her about feeling exhausted after going grocery shopping, or how isolated and lonely I feel even though I’m not alone. And how I just longed for her: her light, her voice, her laughter, her wisdom.

Grief, it seems, has been lingering in the shadows. His presence has been slight in recent days; he’s been dancing along the edges of the new life I’ve built - the one without Lisa.

When you lose someone so intrinsically linked to your personhood you have no other choice but to cultivate life on the other side of that loss. The new life you build has bricks in its foundation made from the pieces of your old life; bricks made with memories of love and anguish. 

Even as you build this new life, you tread on the remnants of the past. And that’s equal parts beautiful and devastating. There is no going back to when those bricks were living moments in your days. When coffee chats around a kitchen table were the only thing you needed to feel seen and heard and loved. When nothing felt impossible and the world was formidable but forgiving. When she was alive and looking at you.

That Thursday afternoon I grieved the loss of Lisa all over again. I grieved the loss of years of my life without her in it. I grieved the conversations unsaid - the sound of her voice so comforting and familiar. 

And in that grief, I remembered. Remembered the big moments and the minutiae of a life-long friendship; road trips, coffee dates, morning talks.

And to grief, I am grateful for those hours of recollection...even the moments that simultaneously shattered and healed my heart.

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