I'm not going to lie, folks: today has been pretty horrid. Around five this morning MrsPal and I found out that our friend had just died. It wasn't unexpected, but since when does that matter? In the poor timing characteristic of real life, MrsPal and PalKid left town today on a long-ago-planned journey, leaving me with an empty house and memories of a good friend in better times.
And tonight my family gathered to remember a cousin who died last summer. She was a remarkable woman, and her husband and children spoke eloquently and lovingly over drinks and excellent food, as she would have loved. It gave me a chance to reflect on my cousin's life, and my friend's, and to take solace in the company of my parents and sisters, who rarely have the chance to be in the same place at the same time. I only wish my wife could have been here to share in some of that comfort.
People who want to comfort you often tell you tomorrow is another day and other such nonsense. People like platitudes. But they're right, I suppose. Tomorrow morning I'll sit down with my parents and my sister's family over bagels and lox, and talk about the heat, our summer plans, and how remarkable our children are.
There's nothing I can write about grief that hasn't already been written, but since we are all destined to experience it, we all have to find our own way to understand it. Grief can be a lens, one that magnifies fear and uncertainty, but can also bring into sharper focus that which is important---friendships, successes, failures, loves lost and gained. We don't get to choose a life without grief, unless we choose a life alone, or enough like alone that there is no real difference.