Darkness. We meet again.
I call you “my old friend,” but you most definitely are not my friend. Nor are you my enemy. You are a familiar presence, a being of some sort, thrust upon me against my will in times of tragedy. At least, that’s what you seem to me now. We’ve met each other so many times that I feel connected to you in some weird way. Unlike a real friend, I am never happy to see you, and I dislike you very much. But at this point in my life, there is perhaps no one with whom I have been more intimate than you.
If you add up all of our time together, it’s longer than my longest relationship. And in those intense periods, you’ve consumed my mind, body, heart and soul. You’ve been in my blood and in my bed. You’ve seen me at my very weakest and most agonized state, heard my cries and confessions, my hopes, fears, prayers, and dreams. You know my habits, my self doubts, my anger. You know my heart, and how much I love the people we share in common.
I won’t say you took them from me. That is not your role. Your role is to fill the space that the person I loved once occupied… with darkness. You are the abyss, the cold watery depth, the hole in my chest, in all of our chests, for you descend on everyone who loved the person.
I will say that, even though we’ve met before, this time (every time) feels different. More personal. A little too close to home.
I cannot yet address too directly the still-unfathomable fact that my dear beautiful brother died six weeks ago. Or the manner in which he died – a horrible freak accident caused by a drunk driver.
On an intellectual level, I understand that the driver caused the accident to happen. On a non-intellectual, emotional, subconscious level I do not understand how the accident was allowed to happen by the unseen force(s) of the universe. Random acts of tragedy have always stumped me in this way. It’s terribly challenging to not ask Why, even more so to not point fingers at the sky.
Losing my brother was an energy shift. You, dear Darkness, are the aftermath. The messenger, the ambassador sent to inhabit our hearts and minds until we heal enough to no longer justify your presence.
What a sad existence for you, to be the vessel and bearer of so much sorrow, powerless to prevent the collective pain, eternally unwanted and unloved, watching people suffer from the loss of a love that you’ll never experience. To be nothing more than a void, into which our screams and cries and beating of chests disappear like sound waves in space, dead on arrival, no one to hear them.
The only positive thing I can say about you is that I tend to learn something new every time we meet. Reluctantly, of course. I prefer to learn these lessons some other way.
I can’t say “welcome back,” but simply hello. I have a few more grey hairs since last we met. I’ve put on a few pounds. But I’m stronger and more aware of myself than before. Also, more positive. I know that eventually the painful squeezing of my heart, the confusion and fogginess will subside. I know that the bits of my heart that were torn away will heal in time until they are rough internal scars. I know that new memories will create a distance from old memories, thereby dulling the pain of remembering my brother in a visceral way like I do now. I know that his wife and children will survive their broken hearts and thrive with his strength forever in their bodies and souls.
For now, though, all of us who loved him are going through it. For me, it’s the quiet moments that are the most difficult. It’s taken me six weeks to be able to sit at my computer without sobbing. It took about five weeks to be able to write in my journal that my brother died. Today, it’s still very hard for me to look at recent pictures of him.
But you know all of this, don’t you? Yes, you know it all.
Though I dislike you very much, I can’t say that I hate you because you are born from love. The more love, the deeper you penetrate, and the longer you stay.
And so, here we are, together again… for what will surely be a long period of coexistence. I wonder what you will teach me this time.
July 22, 2018 at 10:07 am
So stunned and sorry about this terrible loss. Have been thinking about you a lot.
July 22, 2018 at 4:25 pm
Thank you Caitlin. I’ve been a bit in a cocoon lately, but gradually putting myself out there again. Hope you are well. xo
July 22, 2018 at 6:11 pm
Getting there. I had BC surgery July 6 (lumpectomy) with radiation in September (no chemo.) It’s been a tough summer for many people I know.
July 23, 2018 at 9:34 am
Oh man, did not know that. Glad you’re on the mend.
July 23, 2018 at 10:42 am
Thanks…It happened right around the same time as your brother’s death.
July 22, 2018 at 11:15 am
I am so sorry you are here again. We have very parallel journeys, my friend.
I loved this post.
Sent from my iPhone
July 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm
Thanks Jessica. Did you experience another loss recently too?
July 22, 2018 at 12:40 pm
First of all, an extremely moving and well-written post. It moved me to tears, actually. I’m so sorry you have to go through this – again. But of course, it’s not the same – it’s your brother this time – a whole other type of grieving.
I’m thinking about you and hoping that I can come up for a visit. I’m not sure when. My cat is fading and will most likely need to be put down soon. So I’m kind of waiting it out with her until that happens.
In any case, I’m here if you need to talk. I’ll check in with you again soon though.
July 22, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Hi Shay, I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. totally understand wanting to stay close to home. The fall is quite beautiful here, and winter has its charms too. Any time you come will be great. It will be so wonderful to see you!! Gentle hugs to your cat and to you… and yes, let’s catch up via phone soon. love you. N
July 22, 2018 at 4:29 pm
With each one, each individually does bring different things, yes, I have certainly found that to be so. Not at first, but after a while, once time passes – the phoenix from the ashes.
After Tim, because of the loss of my Mom, and my marriage, I learned that I could propel myself somewhere new, that even though it felt dark, at least I knew I could move through it, envelope it, and use that to propel me through the shadows, from a reflective light, I suppose.
I am sorry for your loss.
July 22, 2018 at 4:33 pm
Hi Paula, thanks for sharing those thoughts. Yes, it’s odd how we learn that we can “propel through the shadows” (I like that phrase). Doesn’t make the loss any easier, but perhaps a little less hopeless. I read your post this week too… about how hard Tim fought. Powerful writing as always.
July 22, 2018 at 5:40 pm
You should blog more… I miss your voice. : )
July 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm
This is beautiful and heart cracking. I’m so so sorry to hear about your brother. I have no words to make anything better but know I’m holding you close in my heart.
❤️ Love, Meg
July 23, 2018 at 9:34 am
Thank you Meghan. XO
July 22, 2018 at 6:18 pm
Very eloquent,poetic,admirable, heroic … and heartbreaking. My deepest sympathies. Your FB friend, RICK.
July 23, 2018 at 9:35 am
Thank you Rick.
July 22, 2018 at 8:01 pm
I just keep erasing everything I write to you because nothing, just nothing will do what I wish I could which is to take away the pain you feel. I know this darkness in my own way and I will light a candle tonight for you so that you know someone is holding a space for you in the dark. I am down here too. Maybe we can find eachother sometime…. it’s a lonely place. Thank you for sharing the truth of loss. Jenn S.
July 23, 2018 at 9:32 am
Yeah, there are no words really. Nice to know that friends are out there, though. Thanks for lighting that candle. Love to get together some time.
July 22, 2018 at 9:07 pm
“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief” There are no words for this kind of tragedy and sadness. 😦 Hugs and Prayers
July 23, 2018 at 9:29 am
Thank you Denise.
July 23, 2018 at 10:14 am
I’m deeply moved by your words and my heart breaks for your heart, Niva. My only sibling and big brother died two years ago, so goodbye to the deep support and loving presence I’d counted on since I was born (even when we bickered as kids). I know your Dark Friend all too well–the tears and the teachings. Holding you in my heart.
July 23, 2018 at 7:36 pm
Thanks Elaine. I am sorry to hear of your brother as well. I was very close with mine, sounds like you were too. We’re lucky in that way.
July 23, 2018 at 1:09 pm
Dearest Niva – I cannot even begin to fathom what you are going through with the sudden, tragic, senseless death of your brother. Only know that I cry with you and share with you your feelings conveyed so poignantly and beautifully by your writing. My heart goes out to you, my spirit sits next to you. . .I only wish I was there to give you a physical hug. I am honored to have met him in a good place. Much love to you and your brother’s family.
July 23, 2018 at 7:34 pm
Thank you Lisa. I forgot that you met him. What a great day that was. The memory warms my heart. Love you. XO
August 11, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Heartbreak for you, Niva. My brother died a few years ago, but natural causes and an older age are easier to carry. Thank you for writing so honestly from the heart of grief.