Today is the 33rd anniversary of my brother Bobby’s passing. He was 22 in 1976 when he committed suicide. I view death differently now. At the time, he was hanging with a sketchy crowd and I’d had to bail him out of jail for minor offenses. He had a minimum wage job he enjoyed, and no high school diploma. He lived with the love of his life, not far from his new daughter. He was going through a lot of things, mental and physical, and apparently it overwhelmed him. He didn’t talk to anyone about his troubles, so who knows what specific combination of thoughts finally got to him. Although I felt sadness at the time, I felt mostly relief that we wouldn’t have to worry about him any longer, nor wonder when that middle of the night call would come. Nor how to tell my parents when it did. It was something I had never anticipated. I felt stoked that my heart didn’t feel ripped right out of my body, as it did when my husband died a few years earlier. I had been meditating and studying yoga philosophy, and viewed each death as a practice in seeing through the illusion. I began feeling connected to the essence of each loved one who passed and through time, it just seemed both natural and transitory when the bodies fell away- nothing to get upset about. It is going to happen. We go to sleep here and wake up there. I will feel blessed when it comes, while eagerly anticipating the next adventure. That’s the thought I pre-pave for myself.
My dad died on Father’s Day 1987
My father was a troubled soul, bipolar, a shell shocked (PTSD) veteran, alcoholic, addicted to painkillers from an injury. He shot himself in June 1987. He was in a coma for almost two weeks before he dropped his body. The night nurse would tell me that he was marching in his sleep. Even in sleep he was working out his stuff. I began driving as Garrison Keillor’s final show of Prairie Home Companion came on. I’d just left my dad’s bedside at Baptist Hospital in Miami where I’d signed for him to be taken off life support. His wife did not want to sign without me, so I signed and within minutes he had passed.
I drove the 3 hours north along highway AIA, the ocean drive, and caught Prairie Home Companion’s final show, a Father’s Day show, on various public radio stations all along the way up. It was a very healing and cleansing experience. I much later realized my dad was simply doing the best he could under the circumstances. My mother held a lot of guilt that my father kept so many secrets and estranged his family, yet her choice was to stay or leave. She stayed as long as she could.
When loved ones are passing, know that our consciousness links up with theirs and we are able to send them love and comfort and have the final conversations we could never have in waking life. Know that nothing unsaid ever needs to remain unresolved.