Sorrow has no shelf life.
There is, however, a difference between the jagged edges of fresh grief and the patina of an old grief worn smooth like a faded flannel shirt. The splash of hot tears and spasms of sobs wind down, and eventually become sighs and wistful smiles.
A reduction, in cooking terminology, uses heat and evaporation to get the essential flavors, the best bits, into a thicker base.
Grief–the healthy kind–can make a reduction of our tears, concentrating those salty drops into a savory flavoring. Cardamom, by itself, is sharp and bitter, pungent and overwhelming. Reduced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black tea, it becomes a vital ingredient in chai.
Revelation (last book of the Bible) promises a day when God will wipe away all the tears and Psalm 56 speaks of God storing tears in a bottle.
I know that God sees our tears. And if he knows the hairs on our head, surely He knows every tear that falls.
I know that God–the One who Redeems–transforms our sorrows, giving us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning.
I imagine that the oil of joy is a reduction of our tears, redeeming our sorrows and transforming them into praise. He gave the tears; one day we will offer them back to Him.
More thoughts on grief.
Some letters my mom wrote.