The Universe Whispered
Grief clung disparate souls together in the drenched hollows of a fall night, my brother’s hospital room suspended in the universe of our family, gathered at his precipice. He was letting go. His window open, the sounds of nature ceased while the poles of existence repeated endlessly, that of night and day, those awake or asleep, times of birth and death, the lesson between the poles the same. My mother sat alone in the corner, disillusioned, disbelieving; parents are supposed to die before their children. It’s an assumed Rule of Time.
Hours earlier I stood at my brother’s bedside, holding his hand and taking in the outline of his body, wrapped in a womb of soft blue hospital linens. Oddly, it was his hand that warmed mine, my fingers frozen with a panic that had yet to emerge, still hopeful of a miracle. But David knew this would be the last time. His steel blue eyes fell from mine then lifted to the TV screen suspended in the corner, to CNN’s endless repeats of whatever conflicts were going on at the time. It’s our human condition, the Rules of Society. What struck me is that my brother’s story never played.
Somewhere I knew these words would be our last. He was given grace in death. Behind all the sarcasm that veiled his fears, and in the final moments of his life, David was brave. He apologized for all the nicknames and stupid things we do in our journey to love. I joked back, wanting to free him from his reality, to give him hope of something, anything. It had been the three of us, my two brothers and I, growing up together but we never really knew each other or created lasting sibling bonds. We were souls on different journeys. I didn’t know David’s story, the voice in his head that guided him to his beliefs or away, and the chaos or joy he may have felt between, in the journey of discovery.
The door to David’s hospital room opened, my brother Steve and the nurse entering, breaking throught the knowing shielded behind the straw walls of our reality. This would be David’s final decision in this game of life. My brother Steve, brave in the ways and the Rules of the Brotherhood, of being a man, had done as David had asked. In front of the nurse, Steve asked the question again. David spoke his final word, “yes”.
Looking away, the nurse turned the dosage up and in the light of that fall afternoon, three sets of blue eyes spoke their silent, final goodbye. Our souls clung one last time before David closed his eyes.
Our small family gathered around him, hours passed in the silent vigil of separation. We were not a family who sought each other for strength and nourishment. We were souls and personalities oddly woven together by disjoined interpretations and views of life. We all knew but said nothing.
At one point in the evening, I laid next to David and whispered stories of our family camping trips, describing the smell of breakfast cooking on the Coleman stove, the feel of logs we sat on, how they would dig into our flesh. I painted the colors of trees and the sound of the nearby creek where we would get our water. David loved those trips as a boy and on his own, as a man. He chided me often because I absolutely hated camping and whined every time we had to go (and throughout the entire ordeal).
The evening wore into night until the feeling tingled and spread, then seized my chest. I looked to David’s monitor: 11:56pm. My husband, son and newborn daughter were at the hotel; she would be hungry soon. Anxious, I stood at the nurse’s station; they thought I would have at least two hours. Guilt and time played its treacherous game; I could feed her and be back in half that time. My soul needed to be there for David as he transitioned, to say goodbye.
Back in the room, I whispered to my mom and then my dad and his new wife. I kissed David’s cheek and told him I’d be right back then whispered to my mother again. Leaving the room, I looked back, then up to the monitor in the corner. The line was going flat, David’s heart was stopping. He had begun his transition.
My brother David died of congestive heart failure at 12:04 am, October 4, 2003 at the age of 47, his heart and lungs so full with life’s stories. It was his gift to me to share the part of him that knowingly walked into death. I think somewhere he knew what I would do. I still talk to him, in my way. But I didn’t know my brother David. I didn’t know his inner world, his souls journey of managing the triggers of emotion and thought as life got tangled. I didn’t know what brought him such uncontainable joy that it threatened to burst his conservative and sarcastic shell. I knew what made him happy, but that’s different.
Death, transformation and rebirth are cycles we live through here on earth, the illusion is we’re unique souls on separate journeys. Rather, I think we’re one consciousness in Creativity, testing endless poles of duality in our existence, love versus fear, hope versus faith. We’re guided to embrace life from all perspectives but we get distracted, stuck in our views and rules.
Compassion is divine. We are here to grow love. Unfortunately, we do it by exploring depths of fear and hate, some of us falling into their endless chasms. Creativity creates no right or wrong. We choose to grow love or not.