The Pain of Joy

Tonight we celebrated Yalda, the Iranian holiday that marks the longest night. Both years Shah was alive and in the US with me we hosted friends at our house for this night. The first year Shah died I continued this tradition, but last year in the sharp pain of second year grief, I skipped it.

I love Yalda. It is a quiet, cozy celebration with friends and family that is the opposite of most fast paced holiday season parties.

I’m grateful to friends for celebrating this with us. I wanted to do this again, but it took one friend asking if I was going to, other friends committing to come, and another friend coming a little early to make sure I actually got ready to host the party and didn’t just hide in bed.

There was a moment of joy during the evening that I had the thought that I was so grateful that Shah had brought these friends, this language, and the Iranian culture to our lives. But in the perfect meld of joy and friendship there were moments where the pain almost took my breath away. For it is in the best of times that I most wish he were still alive with me. It is the happy days that he would love that make me feel his loss most acutely.

When I lay still on the couch, evening after evening, not moving, not thinking, and not living, that I can feel most indifferent to his absence. There is a painless feeling in deadness, while joy can pierce the heart.

I have been passing time but not living. It’s as if I believe if I just don’t roll over, it won’t matter that he is gone. If I don’t look up, I won’t see that he isn’t here. If I don’t live, I won’t have to live without him.

Tonight I has a glimpse of another way of living. I had the glimmer of a thought that I should try to live with the pain rather than hide from it all.

Maybe this will be the year I do one of those things he really wanted to do. Maybe I’ll dive back in to building the bi-lingual family we both loved. I think it’s time to start doing things that make me ache that he is missing, rather than sticking to things he would be glad to miss.

Tonight I’m thankful for the friends who have stuck with me though this death. I’m thankful for the friends who still celebrate with us even when I’ve been out of touch for months or years now. I’m thankful for glimmers of hope that there is a reason to keep living.

Isn’t that what this advent time before Christmas is all about anyways? Hope in the midst of darkness. A baby was born in a dark time of oppression. The thrill of hope in the midst of weary pain.

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