Loss is tricky …
One day I woke up from a nap with tears running down my cheeks.
I had been with my brother David, hearing his counsel and feeling the very real warmth of his embrace.
It was vivid and wonderful, until I very suddenly realized that David was dead, that I was dreaming, and that I would lose him once more if I woke up. I began crying as my dream faded to black and I found myself in my university dorm room in the deep anguish of loss all over again.
By that time, David had already been dead eight years, and by now it’s been an astounding twenty-seven. And I still miss him.
My older brother was seventeen when he was killed in a fiery car crash. You could hear the usual expressions muttered at the memorial service. “He died before his time …” “If only …” “His life was just beginning …”
But the truth of the matter is that he lived life more intensely in those few years than many do in a much longer lifetime. He had a passionate temperament and a lightning quick mind that made him an astute observer of all around him.
And he left all loose ends neatly tied and family relationships mended, which leads me to conclude, no matter how much I have missed him, that he died precisely when he was meant to die.
The days around his death were filled with signs and synchronicities, clear messages that cut through the fog of our grief and brought some small comfort to the moment. The house was filled with red roses, which soon became our symbol for David. His ashes lay in the house for five years, placed in a box with a single red rose from his memorial service, before we spread them at the base of a snow-covered volcano.
Just a couple of years ago on the anniversary of David’s death, I was lamenting to myself that, even though I was able to tune in intuitively to the loved ones of other people, I did not seem able to do it for myself. I ached for a connection with my brother, for another “visitation” as I had experienced in just two dreams over so many long years.
In silent meditation, and with no expectation of response, I shared with David how much I missed him and loved him, trusting that even if I couldn’t sense him, there was some part of him that could indeed sense me.
I rose from my chair to make tea and switched on the radio. As I filled the kettle and listened, a smile came over me … incredibly, the voice of one person after another shared how they connected to their loved ones after death.
The first was that of a mother who had lost her seventeen-year-old son and had thrown out her rose bushes in her grief because they reminded her too much of him, only to find perfect red roses improbably blooming in the spring in their abandoned pots lying at the back of the yard.
Most amazingly, this was not a show about life after death, but about gardening!
David had heard me and had found a way to communicate. It was a beautiful and reassuring gift to assuage that little bit of grief that will always cling to my heart about David. But that’s okay …
It’s okay to grieve. I have a strong knowing that the spirit transcends the body, and also a sense that this lifetime without him (just a blink in eternal time, after all) can feel long, and there is room enough in me for both these realities as I honor what he has meant to me and the connection we still share.