Sometimes grief is a little bit sweet, because you know you have something worth mourning, and you feel blessed that you had something precious to lose. Sometimes it makes you feel angry, because you question why you had to lose it. Sometimes it makes you grateful that you recognize the value of the thing you had, and that you cherished it before it was too late. Other times, it makes you feel ungrateful, as if you didn't do enough to show your appreciation for it, and you wonder if you could have done more, been more, said it more often, showed it in more ways - you wonder if they knew.
Grief can come in the day or the night. It doesn't hide when it's sunny, just to come out in the rain. It can follow you to the grocery store, sit with you in the theater, watch while you wash the dishes. It doesn't have a schedule. It's not watching a clock, waiting for your time to be up before slipping off to bother someone else. It's patient. It can sit there for hours without getting bored.
What grief does most is remind you. Remind you that you were loved, or that you wanted to be loved, and make you want to be loved again. It binds you, it ties you, it creates a chain from this side to the next that can't be broken. The chain pulls a little, tugs you, brings you back when you walk too far away. Little by little, it reels you in until you can feel the thinness of the veil between this life and the next, like you can reach out and touch it, like the person you lost is standing just on the other side and if you could open your eyes a little wider, you could see them, holding on to the other end of that chain.
Grief is a constant reminder that we have an appointment with someone on the other side, and that we don't want to do anything to spoil that grand reunion that awaits us when it's our turn to pass. Grief keeps us from forgetting that we have a job to do.
I miss you, Dad.
In memory of Joel W. Norton, 1939-2010.