Long before this past week, this song “Sadie” by Joanna Newsom broke my heart every time I listened to it. The meaning on the surface is about her own pup, but the lyrics quickly plunge me below to the lesson I have learned, over and over, through grief and loss. Trancelike, we can move through our lives unaware of our final destination, conveniently avoiding stark reality and instead taking ourselves, each other, this world for granted. Not knowing what we’ve got ’til it’s gone, we give priority to the petty and live to regret it later.
I fall prey to this forgetfulness sometimes. But one of the gifts of my brother passing three years ago is the awareness of the acute preciousness of those we love and are bonded to…and the worthiness of letting that preciousness keep us awake to this amazing journey called life.
For me, Leo was the embodiment of the brilliant and fleeting spark of incarnation, his existence the tail of a comet that I chased every day, awestruck. I also was fearful of the inevitable fading out, knowing that my own sky would be bereft.
The first week.
On Tuesday morning I lay at his side, gazing into his eyes, saying “thank you” over and over. Throughout my being I suddenly remembered, in that kind of bare bones way, how lucky I am. In light of my shared love with Leo, it is so clear that any self-judgement, inner criticism or self hatred is such a sad untruth. Everyone says how fortunate Leo was to have me. Yet I know that it’s really the opposite that is true. Leo and I found each other and he decided to share his glory with me. Any story I have about my own bad luck or how “things don’t work out” is a disgrace to the true fortune of having found this soulmate.
In the moments after on Tuesday morning, Leo was suddenly everywhere and nowhere at all. 20,000 times a day I hear him, smell him, remind myself of what he might need and then am left gasping when I realize how my hands are empty.
My body is so so infused with my love for him, each deep heart beat says his name and the pain comes when I move out of that and into the world where I want to give it to him…and he is nowhere to be found. Moments are variable, sometimes alive with his spirit that flares up like a flame and sometimes greyscale when regret and self blame bind my feet with chains and stones, dragging me to the bottom of the ocean.
Tuesday night I couldn’t remember the point of it all, of loving and then suffering. The just past full moon blared down, my heart matching the barrenness of moonscape. Then suddenly, knowledge resurfaced, springing into life from the rain of grief like spring wildflowers in the desert. It was this:
To love, means to eventually grieve. And to move through grief means to eventually love.
The last morning.
I can’t tell you any more of the story right now, or the details of how and why. Why is an unanswerable question anyway. There is much ahead of me, and I know very little. What I do know, what I can say, is this.
I love you Leo, and I miss you so, so much.
For the backstory on our incredible love-ship.