“I see (him) on the far side of the river… and he is smiling at me and waving to show that he is going to run on ahead, just a little way ahead. And in my dream, though I want to hold him back, I wave at him and call to him that I will see him later, that I will see him soon, that I will see him in the morning.” — Philippa Gregory, The Lady of the Rivers
Ten years ago today my brother chose to end his life.
It’s hard to fathom that a decade has come and gone since Mark’s suicide. Not a day has he strayed far from my mind, never at all from my heart.
If there is one thing I could change about my life, it would be his absence and the way it came to be.
But since we can’t go back in time and change what’s passed, I’ve decided to change my mind and to make what meaning I can out of the hurt. (Thank you for being part of that.)
In honor of our loved ones who have passed, I wrote a poem. For me, it seems they speak most clearly through poetry.
It also seems like when we put down what we’re carrying, let the past rest, and hold on to the moment we’re standing in instead, we have a better chance of feeling their presence. We can feel our loved ones haven’t strayed too far from us at all.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you know how powerful that moment can be. Pretty life-altering.
It’s as though they’re not lost but “have only slipped into the next room.” (Henry Scott Holland)
And that is an encouraging thought.
They Are Not Lost
Not a day.
Not a season.
Not a year, but
They are carved into the soul.
They are rooted in the place
the world can’t reach.
They sing in our dreams, need
only the light to breathe.
Their love is a quiet harbor
and a hidden field
and the way home.
Our love for them has faltered not, nor
have we missed a beat of their leaving.
Still, our love has not been struck down
does theirs remain.
What we have shared we can call unending.
In death as in life
Not a minute.
Not a mile.
Not a moment trapped in time, but
Not by mere chance do we feel their presence
carried like a breeze
through the bays of the mind.
Not by chance do we pick up hope
we thought had fallen behind.
They speak to us in other ways.
They wrap themselves around everything
we love and smile upon.
No, they are not lost.
They are as present in our lives
as the earth we stand upon.
They are bright in our minds
like the morning sun at our windowsill.
They sit in the seat of honor
They do not merely take up space.
They are the space that we take up and call
So will they be.
. . .
P.S. If you feel so inclined and want to purchase something to show your support for the work I do, these are the words that started it all: “Love each other. Love yourself.” They were the last words my brother ever wrote. Thank you, for all the times you’ve taken those words to heart in your own life.