Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Four Year Anniversary

Jess (top row center) and me (middle row, third from left) at the Cousins Reunion, 1989
Also pictured: Yvonne (next to me in blue) and her brother Phil (in front of me in the shiny red jacket)

Four years ago today my only brother died.

I’ve kept busy today – hung out with friends, worked with Robby on Mercantile publicity, did a gazillion loads of laundry, gave a talk on Dancing Rabbit history for a visitor group, canned 10 pints of pickled beets…but always, in the back of my head, was an inescapable sense of loss.

I know I’m not alone – everyone has to deal with the death of loved ones somewhere along the line. As my father used to joke, no one gets out of this world alive. But the process, and the mourning, takes a long time to go away. Perhaps it never does.

Serendipitously, last week my cousin Yvonne and her husband Ronnie dropped by (from Arizona!) to visit. Her brother - my cousin - Philip passed away last year. We are all still blown away by that. I am grateful that the two of us had a (sad and tear-filled but oh-so-comforting) late night conversation and muffin-baking session, followed by lots of hugs. I was reminded, simultaneously, that I am not the only one who has suffered a loss, and that I will always have people who love me in my life, often appearing exactly when I need them to.

I realize that I am very fortunate. I have so many things and people and experiences for which to be thankful. My life is filled with love and laughter and sunshine and a richness that I could only dream of when I was young. But I still find myself wishing I could see many of those I’ve lost just one more time.

My idea of heaven? While I’m not at all religious I envision this: a place where my brother can see how gorgeous and smart and talented his daughters have grown to be. Hanging out with my friend Carter where he can be pain-free and we can garden and laugh together again. Where my friend Todd doesn’t have to wrestle with depression anymore and we can talk for hours about movies and books and words and the joy of language. Where Cindy (and the rest of us!) can find out what exciting thing she will do next. Where Marcia and I can get to the top of Half Dome, instead of her waiting in the valley, out of breath. Where Tamar can find a partner with whom to grow old – and actually be able to do it…(and that’s just the short list...)

One of my very favorite movie scenes is from “Longtime Companion.” Yes, the movie is dated; the mustaches have become 1980’s clich├ęs and the shorts are way too short – but all of that falls away while I watch. Simply imagining the sheer joy that would fill me if I were able to, once again, hold those who I have loved blows me away every single time I watch it.

Thanks for reading. We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow!

PS This particular post doesn't really have anything to do with ecovillage life, except that I live at an ecovillage and this is what I'm thinking today. I realize that my promised columns on death and dying are much delayed - I promise I'll post them soon!

One last thing - Lyrics to the song from above

Postmortem Ball by Zane Campbell

When I cleaned out your room
I painted the walls to cover any memories
But still it seemed like you were hovering over
Still out there keeping an eye on me

Yeah I never really was able to tell you
That's why I'm telling you now that you can't hear
It's not gonna be the same around here without you
And I'm holding back a flood behind one tear

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

I never thought that I would ever see the day
And I don't wanna believe it's true
You were supposed to always be there
And a part of me has died with you