Living Two-Handed and Two-Faced
“Where’s the video on college dorms?” she asked.
We clicked computer screens until the welcome week college video started playing. Smiling faces toured the university campus, music pulsed, and Morgan and I watched footage of dorm room move-ins and bunk bed assembly. Joy welled in me, and I thumped her back.
“I’m so excited for you!”
Her long ponytail trailed her back and we sat in chairs pulled close to my desk. Music throbbed and the short film ended. We laughed to see that we were both wiping away excited tears.
|Photo Credit: Flickr user COD Newsroom, Creative Commons, cc license|
“I think it’s the video,” she stated.
“Well, I’m just so happy for you,” I exclaimed.
She stood up, her enrollment deposit paid, the move-in date now written on our calendar. Bouncing downstairs, she was gone and the kitchen was silent.
I’ve been learning this week the dual truth that joy and grief can be simultaneous. Nine days ago, sad family news stopped my world. Since then we have walked numbly to doctors’ offices, pens scrawling notes in solemn vigil. We have scrolled medical websites, estimated timelines, and stared silently into space.
And he said it once, a wise friend of ours, “We rejoice with those who rejoice and we mourn with those who mourn, and sometimes we do it back to back.”
I am learning this week what it is to hold grief in one hand while navigating life with the other. In wanting to live transparently, I have been sharing our family news in occasional prayer emails and to friends in person, crying against their shoulders. But I also see the need to interact and to be present with sensitivity to a variety of settings. At Wednesday night youth group, junior high teens bounced energy as we played zany games of Pictionary Telephone and Four on a Couch. Their joy was evident and legitimate. Seeing their sweet faces that are so loved by God and us, I looked deep into their eyes and chose to be present, to be there, to be playful with them.
And we can hold grief and zany laughter in one body. I am learning this surreal and complicated reality: that joy and grief can co-habitate and that I hold them in honest hands before me.
I can mourn. I can rejoice. And I’m trying to honestly, transparently, let myself hold them in two hands, in two faces, back to back.
|Photo Credit: Flickr user johnjodeery, Creative Commons, cc license|
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