Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Site!

Thank you for visiting Loving David. New content is posted in a newly designed site: http://lovingdavidj.com/. Please head on over and follow to receive new updates. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Six Months

When Carlos arrived home from work on October 9th, 2013 he walked inside, his face stricken with pain. I immediately asked him what was wrong, and he said we needed to sit down. I remember him frantically guiding me to the couch, his hands holding mine. We sat together while the words seemed to take forever to come.

Finally, he said "Anna, David died."
My heart stopped. My breath was taken from me. 
Immediately I replied, "David, David who??" 
Carlos replied, "David, your brother." 

The memory of the gut-wrenching "NO" that exclaimed from my mouth moves me to tears as I write this. The violent opposition that I felt to losing my brother was instantaneous. 

It is all a haze after that: talking to my parents, speaking with my siblings, frantically packing my suitcase and that horrific 4 hour drive home to Iowa. It was a nightmare, a tragic seemingly never-ending nightmare. 

Now, 6 months later I sit on that same couch and reflect. 6 months later I'm working at a new job, newly accepted to graduate school, doing projects around our apartment, and preparing for my aunt's wedding. It has been 6 months since losing David, and somehow I've begun to live again. 

It's ironic because I know that the Anna I was October 9th, is so very different from the Anna that I am today. When David died, a piece in all who loved him also died. When I lost my brother, I lost myself. 

This is grief. This is true loss. It is the most intimate un-veiling of who you are. Everything is stripped away and you must decide how to re-build. It's an opportunity for re-birth and renewal, in a beautiful sense it is your loved ones parting gift, until you meet again. 

I can never be who I used to be and when I try to describe how I am different, I really can't. Maybe I'm more serious, more introspective, more mindful or conscientious? I also feel more appreciative, creative, loving, and hopeful. 

What I do know is that I'm more sure of myself now than I was then. I know what is important to me, and recognize the necessity to show appreciation. David's death has challenged me to be better. 

David's absence in our world has highlighted his presence in my heart. 

Today I close with the message of a incredibly beautiful person: my, and David's, mother. The following thoughts have been adapted from a letter written by Ram Dass to his friends who lost their child to a violent death.

"For David's family and dear friends,

David finished his work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of peace a midst the screaming noise of their grief, horror and desolation.

I cannot take away your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is David's legacy to you. Not that he or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.

Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to David, and thank him for the time you shared, and encourage him to go on with whatever his work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.

In my heart, I know that you and he will meet again. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.

Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts– if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. David came to all who love him here to do his work on earth, which includes his manner of death. Now his soul is free, and the love that you can share with him is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.

'We feel that this piece - with its core message - was brought to our attention just in time to share for the six month anniversary of the world's great loss of David. Many times and in many ways we have felt that David is walking beside us on this journey. We pray that God will continue to hold us all as we go forward.

Val Lucas - David's Mom'"

Thank you to my Mom for sharing this beautifully impactful message. 

David's place in my heart is sending love to all his loved ones tonight. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day

Today is April 1st:  April Fool's Day. It's a fitting title for how I feel today. I feel like this has all been one big prank. Nearly 6 months of walking in someone else's shoes: shoes that my feet could slide into, but rubbed in the most painful way.
In fact, David even came back to me in my dream last night. Our whole family was together and we tried to not overwhelm him with our excitement. Slowly we filled him in on all that's happened these last 6 months, our words overshadowed by our great relief that it was only temporary.

In my dream I shared with him that I had begun writing. I told him about "Loving David" and commented it was going to be a very interesting twist now that he had returned. We discussed options for the future of the blog and David offered to co-write with me: him sharing about his experience, and me sharing mine. Eventually maybe we would get it published in a book. It would document this great experiment of many people's reality: many people's reality, but definitely not ours. 
I woke up this morning and laid awake in bed for awhile. Replaying the events of the night over in my head, remembering David's presence in my dream and the great excitement we shared for our new endeavor together. 
I am missing my brother tonight. I feel sad that I will never get the opportunity to be with David again. We aren't able to have a conversation, much less write a book together. It's amazing that after what feels like an eternity, it doesn't get any better. It simply changes to be more manageable and less consuming. It is a reality that will most likely never feel real. It's a story that will never feel my own, much less my brother David's. 
Riding home from work today, the words "David is gone, David is gone" played through my head. It was as if they were an old plot of a story I read long ago, or a recognizable tune, to a song whose lyrics I no longer knew. 
Tonight, like most, I am missing my brother David: I'm holding tight to my memory of him and sending him all my love.

Playground of Grief

it was shock and raw pain, 
alternating like a seesaw: 
up and down and up and down.
Back and forth 
like a game of tug-o-war 
you were pulled.
You're caught in the middle 
of the hula hoop, 
going 'round and 'round 
as emotions and feelings 
came upon you like a tidal wave.
Treading in a pool of hardship, 
paddling to stay afloat.
You bobbed and bobbed, 
every time coming back up for air.
Knowing every time that the tears would stop 
and the pain would melt away.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

One Baby Step

It seems like as you get older, you become more accepting of death. Maybe it's because you've seen many people you love die, and you have no choice but to accept your fate. It could be that your faith gives you hope, and you're anxious to be reunited with those you love. Possibly it's due the the satisfaction you feel from your own life and your many happy and fulfilling experiences. Whatever it is, death is easier to face when it is expected or just makes sense.

I recently read the book, "My Sister's Keeper." This was a very popular book and movie, but I had never read it before Carlos picked it up for me at a second hand store. The story follows the experience of two sisters: Kate, who has a rare form of pediatric cancer, and her sister Anna, her perfect donor match. There is a scene in the story when the mother and Kate are together in Kate's hospital room. Kate has had a turn for the worse and they're all preparing themselves for what might be goodbye. There is a moment of silence, and Kate says, "I had a good one." Sara, her mom, replies, "The absolute best." They are, of course, referring to Kate's life. They're referring to the 16 years that she's gotten to live and love, the context reminding us that these were also 16 years that she's suffered tremendously and had to fight everyday. 

This exchange and these words hit me in a very raw place. Kate has made peace with her illness, she's grateful for all she's had, and appreciates that they've done all they can do. 

The belief surrounding suicide is that it is a highly preventable cause of death. The general assumption is that if only people would reach out in their moments of great despair, they wouldn't act on the impulse to end their pain. As much as I've told myself that David's death was the result of an illness, it's still very difficult to live with regret and the many what-ifs. This exchange in this book, and this acceptance of illness and death, opened a new door for me. It brought me some new "what-ifs." 

For example, I wonder if David came to peace with his illness. Maybe he thought it was his time to go. He had battled the illness, and lived with the pain. Maybe he had enough, just as cancer patients choose to stop receiving treatment, David chose to stop fighting. Maybe he was happy and content with his life, he had such a great life, maybe he felt his mission was complete. 

A warning sign of suicide is a transformation in mood: a sense of peace, calm, or even a happiness. What if this transformation in mood is the same sort of acceptance that Kate had in this book. A peace with what's to come, and a happiness that the pain is going to end. When the fear of living overshadow's ones fear of death, maybe that's when they know. When life has lost its appeal, and death brings hope, maybe that's the sign. 

I don't know what these new questions mean for me regarding my beliefs about suicide. They don't make me miss David any less, but they do bring me a little comfort in thinking that maybe it was his time to go. I don't see a difference between a cancer patient stopping treatment and David choosing not to fight anymore, and maybe that's all this does for me. 

I would do anything to have healthy David back in my life. I would love to talk with him and laugh. The difference is that I know I will never understand his pain and I wouldn't wish one more day of his suffering, for my happiness. 

Maybe this is a step toward making peace. Maybe it is a small baby step toward finding some understanding. We will never understand why children get cancer, just as we will never understand why people must suffer through depression, anxiety, or other mental anguishes. I guess the only thing we can do, is find our own peace, truth, and source of hope. 

As always, I am sending my brother David all my love tonight.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Five Months

It has been five months today, five months since I've gotten to speak to my brother David. 
Five months since I've become this new person, forever changed.

In many ways, I've become a much better person these last few months. 
I have purposely become more genuine, empathetic, introspective, and self-expressive. 
I am more conscientious and driven, and much less bothered by small matters of life. 

David's death has pushed me and challenged me in ways I would have never imagined. 

At times, I feel an incredible peace, and other times a longing so raw that I feel my heart may jump out of my chest. It is in these moments that I turn to David, touch my heart, and ask him to be with me. I ask him to spend those moments with me, no matter if I'm in the privacy of my home, or sitting in my desk at work. 

The other day, I had a wave of intense longing and these words began singing in my head. I typed them out in my phone, and when I got home I recorded myself singing them so I will remember the tune. 

Take me away 
to the big blue sky
over the moon
I'll be reunited with you

Take me away my brother
Take me away my friend

Take me away 
to the forest trees
under their leaves
I'll be reunited with you

Take me away my brother
Take me away my friend

Take me away
and let us be
together again
right where we should be

Imagination is an incredible gift, and one to appreciate in times of trial. 
I've used imagery a lot these past few months. I imagine hugging David and holding his hand. 

Sometimes I close my eyes and re-immerse myself in a memory. 
One I love in particular is one of my most recent memories with David, 
it is from the weekend that we visited him in Minneapolis. 
Our last night there, we enjoyed dinner and a bonfire with friends. 
I remember sitting across from David, 
gazing at each other's illuminated faces: laughing and smiling. 
Both of us were really happy to be there, in that moment, with each other. 

Tonight I feel sad that it's been five months. 
I miss David and wish I could take away the pain of this world. 
I do find comfort in knowing that the pain he felt so intensely, has been replaced with great peace.  
I'm thankful for the belief that David is with me, every day. 

Come take me away, my brother 
Take me away, my friend

Take me away my brother, 
Someday, lets be together again. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Birthday Reflections

It’s a bittersweet birthday this year. I feel so much love from everyone here, yet there is emptiness remaining in David’s place of this day. I don’t remember a birthday without David somehow a part of it. Whether a phone call or a dinner, he always made my birthday special.

I think this is the first of many days that will be bittersweet. On days of greatest happiness, there is a paralleled sadness felt from someone missing someone you love. These days that we are surrounded by family & friends, we are reminded even more of our loved ones that are no longer here.

One of my most special birthdays was the year that I turned 21. David and I were both living in Iowa City, and our parents came down for the day. We went out to eat at Stella, a restaurant which was fairly new and none of us had been to before. David had never seen the restaurant and was very happy with my choice. We had a really lovely dinner. I remember sitting at the table, looking at my Mom, Dad, and David and feeling so incredibly loved. We had a great conversation and all really appreciated the eclectic group of our family that was able to reunite over a nice meal.

After dinner, David had to go downtown to catch the MegaBus as he was heading to Chicago for the weekend. Mom and Dad were going to be driving back home that night, and Carlos was coming to town for the weekend. We all rode together downtown and prepared to part ways. After waiting together for a few minutes, David learned that the Megabus was, in true fashion, running a couple of hours late.

There was a coffee shop across the street called “Fairgrounds” which I knew had an exceptional stash of board games. We decided to all wait with David there. After perusing the game selection, we chose to play Balderdash. I don’t think any of us had played it before and we had a lot of fun. I remember in particular, one obnoxiously long word that David drew. I had to come up with a definition, and somehow, I wrote the exact (correct) multi-faceted definition. It was probably the single greatest board game success I've ever had! David could not hold back his amazement, and I remember feeling really smart. (This was something that did not happen often in board games with David!) David was so excited (and proud) that he texted my brother Ben to quiz him and see if he knew the definition, he didn't!

This birthday memory of dinner and hanging out, makes me so happy. It is a small picture into what was a truly wonderful sibling relationship, as well as friendship, with my brother.

Today is bittersweet because David is not here in the same way that he was that night. He can’t tell a joke, enjoy a meal, or give me a call. He’s not able to even say the simple words, “Happy Birthday.” The sadness of today is compounded with the knowledge that today is only the first. It’s the first birthday and there will be many more. As the journey of my life continues, there will be other things, too: children, career changes, homes, etc. all things that I wish I could share with David.

The sweetness of today comes from all of the people that are here. It comes from all the love that is still around, in every corner of my life: my parents, siblings, nieces, friends, and husband. I know that David is wishing me a happy birthday today, and I know that he’s here with me. I will treasure the memory of that special birthday in Iowa City, and tonight I treasure David’s very special presence in my heart.

Here is to another year, bittersweet beginnings, and living with love.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, my brother

"Loved ones may leave or die...and this is not a reason to close your heart but to open it even more willingly, to give your life to love and it's expression...For life is short and love is infinite" -Jeff Foster. 

David, you will forever live in my heart. I love you, my brother. 

Please be with us today and all days, grace us with your presence and show us your light.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

David's Birthday

David's birthday is approaching: this Friday he would have turned 28. My emotions are very conflicted and I don't know how I feel. Even more, I don't know how I'm supposed to feel. Typically in life, you know which emotions are appropriate or suspected to arise on special days and events. Happiness is typical in times of achievement, progress, and success, and sadness in times of disappointment, loss, or defeat.

February 21st is the day that David came into this world. Throughout his life it was a day he enjoyed and loved to share with those he loved. For this reason, I want to celebrate David's birthday. I want to have a party and see all of those who David loved. In an effort to honor David's spirit and his energy for life, I want to dance and laugh and be happy.

Contrasting this, is the sheer devastation that he's gone. He's not turning 28 on Friday and he's not in this world the way he used to be. Does his birthday matter to him anymore? What does matter to him now? Will he feel honored by my acknowledgment of what once was? How can I show him my love?

These questions, and so many more, cycle through my mind and into my heart, and then back to my mind. I simply don't know. I don't know their answers, and I don't know how they even make me feel. There is no "how-to" book on learning to live after this sort of loss. There's no checklist that will mend my heart or bring me peace.

David has passed on to the next phase and is experiencing life in a different dimension. I miss hearing about his life and sharing mine. I miss his voice and his laugh. It's hard to feel so disconnected from someone you love so much. It's difficult to not know what his world is like now. It's hard that on his birthday, the day you've celebrated with him every year (even if not together physically) he's not here in the way you wish he was.

This grief is really a never-ending test, and one that is impossible to ace. Every situation produces a new riddle and even though none of the options sound appealing, you must choose one. You must choose your version of the best answer, and then somehow continue on to be stumped again.

This weekend, despite my anxiety and emotions tonight, I look forward to celebrating my brother. I hope he's able to be with all who loved him, and give us a little sign that he's doing alright.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Windy City Live Special

I am so thankful and encouraged by these testimonials of loss by suicide. Please watch these THREE SHORT VIDEOS and be challenged to better understand.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

4 Months

The 9th of the month is a good time for me to do a personal check-in. I think of David throughout each day; though on the 9th, I feel an additional responsibility to spend time with him, right in my heart. Since today is Sunday, the majority of this time was spent lounging around. The warmth and comfort of our home required an incredible amount of willpower to leave, to attend a 5:00 church service tonight.

The message at mass was focused on our ability to be a source of light and joy. It discussed our responsibility to serve others and opportunity to be self-less in whatever we do. I took this especially personal tonight. For the last four months, I have been grieving: I've been struggling to survive and looking forward to each days' end. The message at church tonight reminded me my intentions of yesterday. The desire I had, and somewhere still have, to be of service to others.

Losing David has grounded me in a way I could have never imagined. In the last four months, I have changed and in many ways I have grown: I have become more appreciative of family and more certain about the things that matter to me in my life. In other ways, losing David has stunted my growth. I've become so intensely in-touch with my own needs, that it's become more difficult to look at others'. I've become so engrossed with death and loss, that at times the living in my own life goes missing.

Grieving is a balancing act. It's an internal struggle of what was, and what needs to be now. It's learning to live with something that you'll never understand and requires making peace with something that brings you pain. My goal for the next month is to fill my life with life; I want to live in a way which honors David.

Self-expression is something that brought me an incredible amount of healing, and life, these last few months. Whether it is writing, putting artistic touches on my apartment, or even cooking, I feel comforted and happy when I am able to create with my heart. A couple months ago, I shared a photo Carlos had taken of me standing on the beach, a single seagull caught in the frame. This symbolic image brings me comfort. I love the idea that David is gliding above; just far enough away from us to be shielded from life's difficulty, but close enough to send and receive our love. This week, I saw this image again, and was immediately inspired with these words:

This image, and these inspired words, bring me peace and joy tonight. As my journey of healing continues, I hope to someday be a source of peace and joy for others. Sending my brother David, and all of you, love, gratitude, and peace tonight.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Broken Night

My heart feels especially broken tonight
This marathon of grief leaves me breathless, gasping for air
defeated and downtrodden
hurt and empty
The missing and longing is too much to bear
It's too heavy, too painful
Intensely mine and intensely yours
Shared and not shared
Understood and misunderstood
Spoken and unspoken

My words fall short and tears fill my eyes.
My heart feels especially broken tonight.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

'A note to my friend, David' by Justin Ungs

When I first made "Loving David" public, I invited all David's friends and family, or anyone who felt inspired, to author and share a guest post. It's been a few months now and last night I was sent my first submission. Like many things lately, this came at the perfect time. While it is therapeutic and rewarding for me to process, write, and share my thoughts and feelings, I feel a great sense of relief when someone else shares theirs with me. Without any further introduction, I share a beautiful reflection from one of David's wonderful friends.

A note to my friend, David.
By Justin Ungs

I had known David since about 7th grade, starting as small-town baseball competitors. We became friends in high school, and closer friends in college where we lived, worked, and learned together. We took spontaneous road trips, he tried to make me a better tennis player, we both worked at the local hardware store, and very much looked forward to the weekend activity.    

Most recently, I had lived just minutes from his new place in Minneapolis. I was eager to once again be close to David, beyond our routine Skype updates.

I recall one of the very first of his Sundays in Minneapolis; we grabbed lunch then headed to the lake for a stroll. We talked about a lot of things, about everything; chatter that took us the 3 miles around the lake. Because it was such a nice day, there were lots of people swimming. I remember David saying he wasn’t sure if he would fit in since seemingly “every guy” had a 6-pack. I then reminded him who he was standing next to, disqualifying his sentiment.

During the walk he talked about all that he was looking forward to; how excited yet nervous he was for class, how he was looking forward to starting something new and meeting loads of new people. And I spoke how I was so looking forward to having him around again.

In the course of his short tenure in Minneapolis we had done a lot: rode bikes, went to clubs, watched Iowa football games, bonfires, spoke politics, tried new cuisines, went to movies, the fair, and laid around on Sunday afternoons while he did laundry at my place. It was like we were back in college, just getting back from class, not having even a single minute pass by. We were always able to pick up right where we left off.

One thing I'll always cherish, no matter what life sends, is the memory of us just being friends.


A broken shadow
How I can sometimes relate
Life is hard
For you, it just could not wait

That night of darkness
It shook us all
Although the first end for us
For you, an earlier call

I am sad to no longer see you
Your walk. Laugh. And zest
While you were here
It was the best

And now we move on
With new forms of you
You’re no longer with us
How we once knew

Your physical being
No longer here
But your energy and spirit
Still everywhere

We’re somehow closer
And live through your spirit
You brighten my day
And bring strength to it

I often ask
What would David do?
It brings me joy
And memory of you

I still sometimes cry
Because you’re no longer near
We had so much to do
You just got here

We need your help
Continue to guide us
Stay by our side
With hope, we progress

I cannot wait
To see you again
You will always be
My great friend

Until the day
We meet again
Let’s stay connected
This is not our end

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Relationship Now

It is interesting for me to think of David and my relationship now. It is different, and of course it is difficult, but most importantly, it exists. David is such an essential part of my present existence. In some ways, I have more of a relationship with him now than I ever did.

The last few years we were very close and spoke at least once a week, but now he is on my mind throughout each day. I laugh at his memory, cry at my loss, and am comforted knowing he feels peace. The greatness of his 27 years inspires me to be better every single day. It is a very bizarre relationship in that even though we can't speak, hug, or spend physical time together, we're inseparable. David has truly become a part of me. 

 I would trade this intimacy now, in a moment, for the way it used to be. Since I cannot, I am so thankful for this feeling of companionship with my brother. David is living on in all who love him. The beauty of his soul is no longer contained in one body. Instead, he's with us all: inspiring us, making us laugh, and even making us cry.

I know that David is very available to us now, since he lived his life making himself available to others. He was always there to listen, share, and offer advice or support. Whether his role was teacher, student, friend, son, or brother, David always did the best he could do. I like thinking of his potential as limitless now, without daily struggles and commitments, he is able to foster the goodwill he wished upon others as a force for positive change in our world. 

David was incredibly empathetic and I know that he must understand our pain now. He cares about us too much not to know. He doesn't feel our pain, because he's so filled with peace and joy, but he can truly understand. He showers us with love and healing as a preview of what he feels. I believe the moments of peace we feel are gifts from his spirit to ours. 

The last couple weeks have been very difficult. As the time continues to pass, the longing for David grows, just as the healing and peace we so desperately need. It's an internal struggle of yearning for what was and what we need now. This tug-of-war leaves me feeling overwhelmed with emotion, and often exhausted.  

It's difficult to accept that it will never again be how it was, especially because of how wonderful it was. I'm trying to re-focus on what I can do in this moment to make it a great one. I am trying to open my eyes and ears a little wider to be more perceptive of the ways in which I can be better. How can I be a better wife, sister, daughter, and friend? How can I appreciate this moment more fully and transform it into something more meaningful? 

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share these ideas and thoughts. I hope that some of the things which bring me comfort, will also comfort others. Thank you for reading, and most of all, thank you for caring. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Moving Forward

"We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, 
we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back." 

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream."
-Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as I appreciate the beautiful life of Rev. Martin Luther King, I am confronted with the beauty, also, of his death. Not of the actual act of dying, but of the way that he continues to live, even though he is not here. He lived with such purpose, and left such an impact, that his spirit will live forever.

This is something I never realized before losing David: when a person dies, no matter the length of their life, they continue to live on. Their ideas, actions, and dreams are alive in those who loved them. Their spirit lives on in their memory. 

Today, I feel pushed to find deeper meaning in my own life and I am more inspired to learn from those who have gone before me. On this "Make a Difference Day," I reflect on what making a difference means to me. I see making a difference as the smallest and biggest of things, an attainable action that can be taken as far as you are willing to take it. It could be one action or it could be multiple interactions. Today I am reminded of the importance of one day and I am reminded of the importance of one life. I am further encouraged to do something meaningful with the time that I have.

-I strive to better appreciate my situation: my family, friends, education, work, and opportunities.
-I want to live with more respect for my friends and enemies, my neighbors and strangers. I will respect them because they are being, just as I am being.
-I want to better love: speak with love, act with love, and believe in love. Trust love as the means to its own end. By loving, we become love, and there's nothing I'd rather be.
-I want to seek truth in all I do. I will strive to better understand. 

I don't know exactly what my mission is and I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do, or how I'm supposed to do it. What I do know, is that I am here to do something. I'm here to do what I'm already doing, and I'm called to do it better. We are all called to do more.

At yesterday's mass honoring Rev. King, the words below were sung:

For everyone born, a place at the table,
For everyone born, clean water and bread,
A shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, 
For everyone born, a star overhead

For woman and man, a place at the table, 
Revising the roles, deciding the share, 
With wisdom and grace, dividing the power, 
For woman and man, a system that's fair

For young and for old, a place at the table, 
A voice to be heard, a part in the song, 
The hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled, 
For young and for old, the right to belong

For just and unjust, a place at the table, 
Abuser, abused, with need to forgive, 
In anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy, 
For just and unjust, a new way to live

For everyone born, a place at the table, 
To live without fear, and simply to be, 
To work, to speak out, to witness and worship, 
For everyone born, the right to be free

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day." -MLK

What a beautiful dream for today, and all days.

I don't know where I'm going, but I know that I am going to keep striving, seeking, and loving. It's the best and least I can do. In Rev. King's words: "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Missing Him

I felt like I was making progress in finding peace. For a moment I lost sight of my grief,
and when it came back a couple days ago, it completely knocked me off of my feet. 
It's like my pools of tears have been re-filled and are ready to over-flow at any moment. 
My breath escapes me with the recollection of my heart.

 I've been snapped back to the reality of missing him, and this sadness that is all encompassing.
As time goes on, the events of October seem more and more surreal; 
I must remind myself David's gone multiple times a day. 
Sometimes this memory is accepted calmly, but other times it hits me with the velocity of that first night. 
It is difficult knowing that I will always miss David, and this pain will always be with me. 
It is impossible to think of him as gone forever; it just hurts too much. 

Unlike most things in life, there is no solution to fix this.
In an instant, this sadness became a part of my "new normal."

David's life was so much more than the crisis that took him. His life was so much greater than his death. 
In some weird way you think that that means his life should somehow win. 
It seems like death's punch should be dodged with the force of his life. 
It doesn't seem possible that something could take that away from him. 

I know David. I know that he would have kept fighting. Why didn't he get the chance? 
Why was the strike of his illness so powerful? How did it escalate out of control? 

David was a fighter. 
He was also a lover, a thinker, and a giver. 
He brought my life joy, support, and love. 

I just miss him. 
I miss hearing his voice. 
I miss hearing his laugh: sometimes boisterous, sometimes a soft chuckle. 
I miss his eyes, beautiful brown eyes which he proudly credited to my mother. 
I miss his walk, 
the way that he moved for here to there with the coolest stride that I never could emulate quite right. 
I miss his dance moves, and his complete lack of inhibition on the dance floor. 
I miss his energy and his enthusiasm for all experiences and all people. 
I miss my brother. 

All I want is to give him a hug. 

That is all for tonight: tonight I am missing him and I am loving him. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Third Month

Today is the 9th of the month. Since October, the 9th has become the anniversary of the day my brother left this earth. This was the day he last spoke, thought, or felt. This is the day that David last lived. 

Every month since October, the 9th has been a difficult day. Being re-acquainted with the events which happened just one month before, two months before, and now three months before is difficult. These are frequent milestones which painfully remind us that time cannot be re-wound, sometimes there isn't a second chance. 

This month, the 9th has a different feeling to it. This feeling is hard to communicate but it shows progress. 

This month, I feel stronger and I feel proud. 

I feel proud because I am surviving. All of those who loved David, we are surviving. We have felt pain, sadness and utter despair. We have pleaded with ourselves, God, and even David, yet the pain persists. I feel stronger because I am living this sorrow, yet I am persevering. 

The most difficult moments allow a view into David's feelings that day, October 9th. The pain felt from David's passing has allowed me to understand his feelings more than any words he could speak. Through this understanding, I feel closer to him. Not in the way that we used to be close, but in a different, more intimate way. 

This January 9th, I'm thankful that while I experience this pain, I am also able to see the light. There are still many moments where I feel that darkness, but I am able to open my eyes wider, so that the light may enter in.

My mom sees David's light in in the sky: the beautiful rise and set of the sun. David also appreciated the beauty of the sky. This summer he posted photos of  two different Iowan sunsets, one of the captions read, "Iowa has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the summer." 

This holiday break, I too was awestruck with the sky's beauty. The winter sunset captured below illuminated the sky, casting beautiful hues above David's place of eternal rest. 

Bankston, IA

No matter where these beautiful winter sunsets are coming from: whether it is David painting the sky for us, God showing his beauty and promise for the world, or even if it is just David opening our eyes a little wider to appreciate this light, this is something I am thankful for.

This January 9th, I am grateful that we are still here. I am thankful for every person who has offered support, understanding, and love. I am thankful most of all for my immediate family. I feel blessed to have become more closely united to them through this tragedy. After three months, I feel like I can, and we will, endure. 

The fact that the sun rises and sets, the same way it always has, is comforting. 
The fact that it does so so beautifully, fosters hope. 

The worst days will end, and with each morning comes a new opportunity to start fresh. Each new day is a gift given to us to do what we choose. We are able to appreciate nature's beauty, embrace opportunities, and love one another. Every day is one to cherish, in an effort to honor and remember David. 

Some days memories of David draw tears, other days they make me laugh. Always, they make my heart flutter with the vulnerability of loving someone so much. 

This 9th of January, I know that I can do it. I know that we can survive. I hold David in my heart especially close this day, and as it flutters in his memory, I imagine his smile and his joy-filled soul. 

With anticipation, I imagine our reunion. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thoughts for the Day

"From our very first breath we enter and trust the cycles of life. As infants we trust our parents to tend to our needs. As children we trust the good in those around us. We are taught that if we are good to others, they will in turn be good to us. Soon we become adolescents who are taught cause and effect. We are taught that if we eat nutritionally and take care of our bodies they will serve us well for years. And we grow into adulthood, where we continue to trust these basic cycles. We trust that the sun will rise each morning and set each evening; that our children will outlive us; that there will be many days to cherish those we love. 

Then, in a split second, with the news of a loved one's sudden death, the world changes forever. The orderly world of predicable cycles ends. We are thrown into an abyss with few tools at hand. No time for preparation. No time to gather what we will need for our journey. No time for unfinished business or goodbyes. 

Physically we may be composed of cells and genes and skin and bones, but emotionally we are composed of thoughts and feelings and memories and pieces of the people we have touched, and of those who have touched us. The death of the person we love creates a gaping wound. We have somehow changed. Our cyclical structure has been eternally disrupted and we find ourselves wandering through the broken pieces of yesterday's foundation. 

Grief brings that moment when you look into the mirror and no longer recognize the eyes staring back at you. Though the sun still rises and sets as it always has, everything looks just a bit different, a bit distorted. Grief casts far-reaching shadows around us." - I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye

Days pass on and the world continues to go 'round. Some days are good and I feel peace but the cycle of grief continues to circuit. The passage above encapsulates so completely the struggle I've had losing David and the confrontation I've felt with the reality of life and death. 

I miss my brother. I miss talking to him and laughing together. I miss witnessing his antics and hearing his thoughts. I miss being challenged and supported by him. 

I find peace in remembering that death is a part of life. I am comforted by the idea that what seems like an end to us, is really only a beginning. 

"What we call the beginning is often the end. To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." -T.S. Elliot

David lived a great life. I wish it had been longer, but I am thankful for all it was.

"God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference"