I have a friend who does stand-up comedy. We dated for five beautiful minutes of our lives, and now we're good friends. Except, it took a year or two before we were the kind of friends who had in-depth conversations on a regular basis. This one time when we'd been talking for a while over the phone while I wandered around Walmart looking for flip-flops, he said, "Em, you're so funny—it's different than before." I said, "Really!?" I thought about everything that had happened in the last two years since we'd really talked. "That's such a compliment! But, I do feel like I'm funnier these days." And then he said, "Well, that means there's been great pain."
When we dated he sometimes talked about the connection of grief and love and funniness, but I'd always focused on the love part—I didn't really know anything about sadness then.
Anyways, sitting on a bench in Walmart I thought, Yes, there's been a lot of pain. I wondered how he knew. But, he's one of the funniest people I know—so, he's allowed to call it.
I experienced another grand break-up in December. Right before Christmas.
I have break-ups down to a science now.
For example, I know the hardest parts will take two months.
I'm still horrified about the forgetting—the allowance of favorite & sweet to distant & unknown. But, I have a good friend who once told me that I was allowed keep all the memories. I may not think about them, but they are there—still sweet, and maybe not favorite but creating a base for more love.
So, during January, I knew I would be alright.
If I could just cross off the day on the calendar, I'd be one day closer to being okay.
I let myself cry whenever I wanted which was every day, but I was determined to face this particular break-up with love and gratitude. That sounds saintly and pretty—but, it wasn't. It felt nauseous and scary. If you prayed for me, thank you.
I knew once the grief passed, it would leave a whole deeper and wider with room only for joy. But, I did not imagine the delight. The absolute delight!
I don't know when exactly the sadness passed. Perhaps, laying on my roommate's bed while she looked me in the face and reminded me I'd be okay. Perhaps it was standing in the post office on Friday afternoon reading the loveliest valentines from my friends. Perhaps it was Thursday afternoon, discovering the greek word trelos, which means perfect.
I thought facing rejection with gratitude would lessen the pain, but it only made me a witness to more love.
***This is all to say I love this photograph from Saturday night: the absolute happiness proof of the grace of God and the kindness of friends.