In your mind, create a timeline of your own life. First, start with the day and year you were born, your family members and the place where you were brought home. This is the beginning and someday there will be an end and there are points in between that mark major events and change. Each ritual along the way in your life marks the end of something, but it is also the beginning of something new. A death feels different. It feels like the period at the end of a sentence, instead of a comma. Within each word of a eulogy and between each hug at a wake lives the memory of our loved one and the worry that what was once present and joyful and solid, is now gone. But there’s a lot of grey area and inexplicable detail between the clear beginnings and endings that we’ve marked. A death of someone we love dearly is an ending, a beginning and an in-between.
We experienced the loss of our brother at the end of September. Every season has its own feelings of beginnings and endings but the fall especially has the push and pull energy of change; the end of summer vacations and the beginning of school, a ramping up of work and to- do lists and the preparation for year’s end. The green of warmer weather is all around but a few cool days sneak in and trees that are turning colors are hinting at what’s next. Our brother’s death was an accident so in some ways it feels like I heard the news, caught my breath and a true exhale from that moment never came. This event marked an end, certainly. It was the completion of a super cool, varied and interesting life’s work in one particular body and one very unique spirit (this was our older brother so there was a certain amount of trailblazing on his part and subsequent idolizing on our parts) but his death was also the start of something new.
Where I found myself during preparations and after the funeral is what Celtic people call a thin place, a space where the veil between worlds has opened, the meeting of heaven and earth. A connection to God or whatever you call Spirit or energy is felt in a deeper way. I knew my brother was with us, in a different form, but still there. I understood that what we perceive to be a linear life with timelines, beginnings and endings, was untrue. The space in between, the mystery of self and our larger connection to the eternal was revealed. I miss him, the him that was a big personality and physical presence in this world, but I can go to the thin place where he lives and where all of our stories begin and end.