Grief and Love and Waking

“Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace-disappointment in all its many forms-and let it open me?” This is the trick.” —Pema Chödrön

I woke up happy and filled with peace this morning. I read poetry and Pema Chödrön, meditated and cried happy and cathartic tears. I felt grateful for my life—this life, right now, not the life that I waste comparing to what it used to be or wishing away until it gets better. This is significant. One happy waking day is more than I’ve had in months.

Most days I wake up wrapped in sorrow and grief. Each waking is a rush of reminder: I no longer live in the home I loved for over a decade; I am divorced; I feel isolated from many of the communities I’ve spent years building; my faith has taken a beating and is finding new forms; I will never see my brother again in this lifetime. By bedtime I’ve reminded myself of the reasons for my choices, I’ve taken baby steps forward. I’ve nurtured my heart enough that I know I will be okay, then I sleep and forget. Then, I wake and remember.

But today I woke up happy. Today I was so grateful for my life, my body, my home, the sun shining on my face, my bedside table, my best friend’s metaphors, Buddhism, and wonderful people who talked and listened and loved me last night.

You can’t have love without grief; this world of impermanence packages them together. And the deeper the love, the deeper the grief. Sometimes I’d like to choose a lessened grief, but not if lessening grief meant lessening my deep and burning capacity for love.

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