“I loved the boy. With the utmost love of which my soul is capable.” - William Wordsworth
When Mr. Roman looked at me, frowned at my dragon tattoo, and asked, “What are you doing to yourself?” I replied, “Decorating.”
He laughed. I know that it wasn't the first laugh I had heard that day, but it felt like it. It felt warm enough to sit in for a minute, before I went back in the door, before the universe asked me to do the impossible.
I hope with every ounce of my soul that no one ever has to bury their younger brother. It is an impossible, soul-heavy task. “I can’t go on. I'll go on.1” In the midst of it I find tears, I find their small pools at the floor of my feet and wonder if they'll sink down low enough to reach him, to reach his holy vessel, to bring him back to me.
Perhaps from now on, I will always sit facing the door, as all men who know great danger have done. Perhaps now I will never sit facing the door, as I have faced the greatest danger, one I could never have predicted, never have imagined, never dared to.
Perhaps now I will tell you in what soul his vessel rested. For the body is of the earth and must return to it. The soul itself lives and joins a universal consciousness I now seek with every inhale and exhale. I know this to be true. I know that in the great Psalms, I may never find peace, but in the depths of my own soul, he is with me.
The vessel of my beloved brother, my Piscean in arms, the one to whom I could turn at any time. Living in movement, struck up into dance at a favourite song, never shying from helping another. Never. Ever. Ever. Leaning into the stories of other kindred souls, and making his judgments slowly. Even in his prejudice, even in his stubborn eye, there was love. Forever resting just above whatever I perceived as malice. Passion could dream of defining that which he loved and cherished.
I have a love that loves me. My love is mine, all mine. Nothing in the world belongs to me but my love is mine, all mine, all mine2.
In my mind rests a haunting story that was mine, but never his. It held a stark and glaring posthumous query, and I am in the midst of shaking it from my soul. But the soul and its memory are not so easily deterred. Worse, even, is the mind in its heady complexity, in its mixed mediums, in its ceaseless chatter, in its now now now. Never a thing to be conquered, always a beast to observe. Always of use when necessary. Once my greatest achievement. Not now.
In the present I, in the omnipresent I, is a depth of love the vessel fears containing. To contain it would be an offence to emotion itself, would deprive it of its ceaseless determination to ask, to reveal, to unearth.
How. Ever. Will I take another step toward a path laid out in smooth and slabbed stone, in light of the tundra that lies behind, that beckons me, and fills me with fear. He never feared it for me. He told me, always, to bound toward it, with a glimmer in his eye that told me he knew in my heart that it was necessary, though he thought me mad for choosing such a life.
With my love, I wish to venture there. With my love I wish to poke spoke holes in untouched earth and leave knowing we were one for just a moment, with everything and nothing at once. In my longing lies parallel a sudden burst of bougainvillea. All is in colour in the moment of being seen.
How can I tell you how I endeavour to give his soul new eyes through which to see the world? How can I tell you that if the human life and its ventures are the eyes through which the universe knows and expands itself that I wish to fold within it, to expand into it, to go with his soul for ever, to give his light two eyes through which to expand and to know itself.
I remain in a state of utmost gratitude to have my feet firmly planted in the love of a family so great, it encompasses tenfold the pain we carry. This love that walks alongside. “The depth of pain, is equal to the depth of love,” is what my mother said. And my God, how much love we held for him. I wish to hold it for ever.
And yet. And yet. And yet. There is no for ever. The universe in its gnarled lessons with swiftness and grace has taught me with little room for question that time is an illusion known only to those who wield its hand. For us, it remains a mystery. The tick and metronome we have come to know is, in my mind, a mechanism for the grappling with an impossible truth. We do not know how much time we have. And we never will. But how to go forth, how to live on, on the precipice of order and chaos, of love and war, when there rests a chasm of undeniable truth from which one can so easily turn away? I have found the answer to simply be, to turn around.
Look back. Dare as Lot’s Wife did. Salt can melt.
And so I go on. I have looked back. I have stood frozen at the prospect. I see the evil city as it burns. My western life is impoverished though my every need can be met within the hour. Impoverished through no material means. Solely through the necessity to live as quickly as possible. It is a response I considered eagerly. I looked for the corners to crawl through, the flights to catch, the dreams to chase. But I am in one now. And to sit in this, to be still, to hold the cavernous loss within, is an adventure in and of itself. The depth of pain is equal to the depth of love. Perhaps I should tell you the rest of Mr. Wordsworth’s quote. Its end, too, is necessary: “…and he is taken from me - yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it.”3