Recently I bumped into a friend on the Bike Path. He stopped his bike to talk to me.
“I really need to talk to you; things are coming off the rail.”
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll be gone for two to three weeks, but let’s talk after that.”
I went on to explain that we were about to have a death in our family, and we were going to be with them during this time.
My friend dropped his head and expressed his grief. I appreciated his concern for our family. I also reassured him that they were responding in a very lovely and joyful way. We fist-bumped, and he rode off on his bike.
What I wanted to tell him was though we were sad, we were also incredibly joyful. Joyful for the love that existed in the family. Joyful for the way that friends lifted them up and gave them support. Joyful for the clear-eyed, honest conversations they had in the recent past. And joyful for the wonderful hope they have.
I wanted to say that joy doesn’t mean the absence of grief. It is rather a quiet comfort based on hope. I wanted to say that honest, transparent conversation is like a boat that sails through grief and protects us in such times.