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Twin Blades

December 21, 2017

 

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This was before I knew him, which means I was yet to be born.  He was the big brother engine and I was the little sister caboose, with no other train cars between us. 

Last Christmas Eve, he died.

The one whose five-year-old hand rests on my leg in my black-and-white baby pictures.

The one who in the grainy home movie, steps between me and a horse, protecting.

The one who drove me to school while Steppenwolf blared on his 8-track (hmmm, maybe a lapse as protector).

The one who walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

The one who loved my husband.

The one who loved my children.

The one who loved our parents alongside me in their last years.

The one who was always ahead of me and beside me.

For years I skated, twin blades cutting the ice with ease and grace.  And then the ice cracked and I went down, went under.  I am still down, still under, and I do not have a working vocabulary for these waters.  It is a place where grief and sadness and anger and fear are unleashed.  It is also a place where you keep your eye on the small, steady light coming through the crack, through the murk.

I’ve learned that the more you have, the more you have to lose.  Whew, that is a double-edged way of looking at life, or more accurately, at the loves of our life.

 

The last year has been the hardest of my life.  My brother’s death left me utterly shattered. 

And yet.

The last year has also been one of the best.  Matchless really, from both ends of the spectrum.  I did not  know it was possible to cry in your sleep until this past year.  Many nights, I was awakened by my own tears.  And I have reached out to touch the love of my life, stretched out long beside me.  The one I have hunkered down with in the year I have withdrawn from the world.  The one who is my home.  And then there are more tears for what I do have.  I have so much.  I did not know it was possible to feel how much. It’s a painful awareness, and also a wise and often-fun guide.  It changes your day, it changes your life.

To love those that are ours to love, even though one day, it will be otherwise, is the bravest thing we do.  It is also the best thing we do.  It is the steady light that scatters in the dark, murky water under the cracked ice. 

Bravest and best bro, you are still casting light. You’re still ahead of me, pulling the caboose. 

 

P.S. To my family of origin.  I love this photo. Brother, you carried a part of that little boy with you for all of your days.  And mom, look at those beautifully wrapped gifts.  The attention and care and gentleness that you provided for us provided the sweetest childhood.  And dad, you’re there too, your integrity safely and strongly holding us all.

Please, God, tell them thank you.

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