Where Grief and Joy Collided

The moment is sudden and almost made me stumble even though I was standing perfectly still. I had been anticipating this for months, hours, minutes, seconds. Initially I am incapable of comprehending what is in front of me. My brain collapsed on itself. A supernova of emotions. I was yearning for this feeling. It was a feeling that would rocket through me over and over again as each day I deconstructed and rebuilt what was inside of me while venturing through the wonders of Patagonia.

Earlier that year, I had flown to Costa Rica, looking for expansion. But there I found love, and a sense of home. My heart just felt enveloped in the familiar sense of warmth it was missing.

Next, I traveled to Iceland, and caught glimpses of what I was searching so hard for. But, the company I had prevented this feeling from truly taking root. I couldn’t be fully immersed in the moments of awe. I couldn’t submerge and be reborn. Not yet.

At the Grand Canyon, I got closer. Something older and stranger than myself. Something I couldn’t grasp. At night the stars and galaxies painted the sky and I knew I was on the right path.

In Nicaragua, I found solace and patience. I was humbled by an ocean I was not able to master. I found another home. Another place that clicked. I could stay here and be satisfied, but I wasn’t after that kind of satisfaction. Not yet.

I wanted to break my brain and crack open my soul. I wanted to split apart the insides of me and let everything pour out.

I fumbled through the top zipper pocket of my backpack, groping for the pouch containing two pill bottles of ashes. Streams of energy ebbed inside. Tears pooled and collected, ready to spill out.

All around the booming, the cracking, the echoing. Glaciers, calving in the summer “heat,” stretching beyond the furthest reach of my sight. Chunks of ice diamonds bigger than three of me floated in the taupe waters of Laguna Torre. It had poured the entire hike to the lake, but once we arrived the skies quieted, as if halting in reverence for the moment I was experiencing.

The only water falling now was down my cheeks, I smiled bigger than I had in months.

Loss and love were interweaving, I found the space where grief and joy collided. I revisited this so many times over that week. And in between the sense of being home rushed in again.

Perhaps my home was going to be everywhere. Perhaps I had been here before, in another life.

Perhaps this was just a beginning in the ending of the worst year of my life.

Perhaps this is where the real work starts.

In the explosion of the senses, I understood for a brief period of time that being present and taking in just the here and now was all that was needed. I felt my soul. Like, really, deeply, cosmically, felt it. It was a beautiful and radiant sensation. I drank it in every day.

That feeling has faded, lost in the isolation and cautious patterns required to navigate an ongoing global pandemic.

I hope to find it again in the “after time.” I hope it finds me when I least expect it.

That’s all I have right now: hope.