Good Grief

Ananda Day - Senegal


August 23, 2010

The idiom “good grief” has always seemed a bit oxymoronic to me. How can it be that grief is good in anyways? Perhaps this is why “good grief” is often used as an exclamation expressing something bad that has come along- like rain on a birthday cake outside with candles lit. Good grief, it’s raining! Mon Dieu! A, la vache! There were many points throughout this past year when those phrases passed through my head or out of my mouth. I lost a loved one back home, ran out of water for days, waited hours for things ranging from prayers to cattle crossings, had skin mysteriously melt leaving scars as the only reminder, wilted in humidity and heat that one could seemingly swim through, was propositioned just the same by boys at knee height and those old enough to have shrunk back down, had my brain packed with information and thoughts till it was obvious words and letters would start pouring out of my ears, and so many more things. But pardon me! It seems that I never really got the point through. I, in fact, am a fan of rain, birthday cakes, candles, and good grief. While every moment I went through was not a moment of good grief, many of those that I just listed (and more) can be counted as such.

Good grief to me consists of those experiences which may not be that pleasurable in themselves, but at the end of the day you get to look back and see that something good did come out of them.

Today I have been back in America for exactly 101 days. Early in the morning on April 30th I set foot on US concrete at JFK International, but I feel like I never actually hit the ground. The past three months have been blissfully happy as I worked on my capstone, reintegrated into my home culture, and enjoyed the company of people that I had missed dearly. All the while I have been working out how I merge my experiences from this past year with those of the rest of my life. I escaped a bit from myself though- not really responding to e-mails, forgetting blogs, delaying personal reflection in my diary, and not even talking to the people I had grown so close to. When I was lying in my bed last night chasing the ever evasive dreams, I woke up from one I have been living-grief. I cut myself off from Senegal unconsciously so that leaving and moving on wouldn’t be so horrible. This was never a bad grief. If anything it was a peaceful ignorance of how deeply I cared for every single moment of this past year. Feeling my sorrow hurts a bit more, but in the good way. By simply existing it means that I had the chance to go through everything I did. Now that, my friends, is good grief.

Ananda Day