House of Joy


Grief arrives uninvited, bringing sadness as his plus one. The energy of the party shifts. You can’t even hear the music. Grief and his loud mouthed friends stir up memories and what ifs. You’re pulled into an emotional battle, a mental game without rules where strategy fails, not to mention your body is sick with sorrow.

You’re an outsider at a frat party. Grief is the big man on campus. You resent him and all his damn attention. He pours it out for you, as you turn your back. Guys like that always hurt girls like me.

You hide in the bathroom to compose yourself. Grief greets you outside. How are you doing? Remember that time…? You look so sad. Can I get you something to drink? Do you want to dance?

Oh, how you want to dance! Grief leads you to the floor. He holds you surprisingly soft, even comforting, though you resist. He whispers in your ear—something that makes you laugh. Grief steps back, looks you in the eye, and promises to believe any lie you want to tell.

You tell the truth. Grief listens. Grief knows. Grief gets you. He holds you. He isn’t trying to control or corral you, but what’s a guy to do? You keep falling into his arms.

Each time you swear you’re walking away. Grief explains he’s never leaving you—like a promise to be blood brothers. You cry and let him carry you in his strong arms.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this!” You say, “I wasn’t supposed to end up here!”

Grief says, “I know, baby. I know. There’s another party across the street. If you want to go, I’ll escort you.”

A part of you wants to stay at this party. How weird—because you don’t belong.

Grief holds out his hand. “Let me take you someplace new. It’s at the House of Joy.”

“I don’t know,” you say. “It sounds wonderful, but am I ready for it?”

“Hell!” Grief laughs. “You weren’t ready for the last party! What makes you think you’ll ever be ready? You weren’t ready for me to come into your life, but I’m here. You’re standing. Do you want to walk over?”

Still, you hesitate. You take a step forward with grief by your side. You hear music. More important, you feel the music.

You make it to the other side. You want to run back. Maybe you forgot something.

Grief assures you: you have everything you need and you can come back any time you want.

“Sometimes,” he says, “it’s best to just watch the House of Joy before you go in, before you let yourself in.”

You observe people smiling, kids playing, plants blooming, and animals doing their thing. You remember what you forgot back there—resentment toward other people’s happiness. You didn’t bring the anger, either. Nor did you realize how heavy it was until you were free of it.

In the House of Joy, you witness lovers kissing. You see art and invention and oh my, is that an angel?! You spot your old friend Funny hanging with Miss Curiosity. And you worried you’d be alone!

You turn, “Grief, are you leaving me? You can. I’ve got friends here.”

Grief smiles like a big brother.  “I’m your friend,” he says. “But, you go enjoy. This party is for you as much as anyone. It’s your time. Go ahead. I’ll see you around. Oh, hey baby, when you get in there, look for a guy called Adventure. I think you’ll like him.”






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