Adrift …

“Everything is beautiful and I am so sad. This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief.” ~ Mark Nepo

Click the above image for the full poem

The image above is the link for a poem, Adrift. It was sent to me in an email by the same friend who wrote out the John O’Donohue poem in my last post, Bennacht. The above quote is the first two lines taken from the author Mark Nepo’s poem. It seems my pickleball friend has a thing for poetry. Her selections have really spoken to me, and I appreciate her sharing them with me.

I have never really delved into poetry that much. My tastes lie in music, especially music lyrics which really are poetry put to music. However, Kevin’s brother (my other son, Craig) has been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. Craig studied English at the University of Calgary many years ago, and I have several of his works that I put together in a booklet form (with his permission) about 20 years ago now. Poesy is Craig’s thing, and music lyrics are mine. Lately, it seems that Craig and I have been connecting on a new level since Kevin died. We are learning a lot about each other these last couple of weeks, and I am proud of him and the decisions he is making as he struggles through Kevin’s death. Many of the struggles Craig is experiencing, I experienced many years ago when my own brother Brian died. Craig is doing well, though. Missing Kevin is a daily thing for him, as it is for all of us who loved him, but Craig takes each day in stride and soldiers on. It’s what Kevin would want from him, and from the rest of us as well.

It’s been a difficult few days for me personally. So many things were coming hard and fast at us after Kevin died. It’s especially hard for the immediate family members of the deceased loved one. I learned that 38 years ago now when Brian died. It’s all coming back again now.

There are so many decisions on what to do now that Kevin is gone … Do we have a service? Or do we have no service? … Internment? Internment where? … Bury keV’s ashes in one of the family plots in Edmonton? Hosking or MacLean family plots? … Scatter his ashes? Where? How? … Personal keepsake urn for each of us? Regular urn? Who keeps the regular urn if we don’t bury Kevin? … What do we do with some of Kevin’s belongings? Keep them? Keep some of them? Give some of them away?

So many questions, so many answers. Finding those answers is not an easy task for Kevin’s brother Craig, their mom Allison, or me. The answers are beginning to come to all of us slowly, and many times it requires compromise by one of us. Compromise can be difficult at times, especially when you have immediate family members who all need to be involved in making decisions on what to do.

In December 2022, I booked an appointment with a therapist. Brenda and I had talked a lot about what was bothering me emotionally and was beginning to manifest itself in me mentally and physically. Brenda showed me that there was good reason to seek therapy for some personal healing that was necessary for me. I agreed.

The last time I did any therapy of any type, was after Brian died in 1984. They helped me then, perhaps they could help me now?

I discovered in my therapy sessions that the original reason I sought personal healing for, needed to follow personal healing for another issue that I had never resolved for myself. This was a long-standing issue that I had lived with for many years but didn’t realize.

That issue was Brian’s death. My therapist helped me discover that all through those 38 years since Brian died, I was still struggling. I had no idea that was the real root of my pain. I had never reconciled with myself over Brian’s death, and my therapist helped me to realize that I had it in me to finally come to terms with his death. 38 years later. She helped me by asking me to write a letter to Brian, and then read it to him as if he was there listening to me as I read. I began looking for the inspiration to craft a letter.

It didn’t take me long, nor did I have to look far to find that inspiration. Actually, I had written a WP post as the 35th anniversary of Brian’s death neared. That was in January of 2019. The post was Long Time No See, Bri … . The last half of this post contained a letter that I had written to Brian as if I was speaking to him. I crafted the post, published it in WP and left it there for others to read. With a couple of minor edits, it was perfect!

It was when I read that letter out loud to Brian, that those 38 years of pain and missing him began to finally heal. I am finding that the same sage advice that she gave me at the beginning of this year is helping me now with Kevin’s death.

The picture above is our mantle finally finished! When I took the many sympathy cards off the mantle, Brenda was able to work her magic and decorate it masterfully. Except for one minor detail which I brought to her attention last night. My OCD was having difficulty dealing with the fact that the snowflakes hanging down weren’t symmetrical. She told me to leave it alone and not touch it, so after walking up to it a couple of times and back to my chair, I decided to leave it alone. As Kevin would often tell me when he was describing himself, “I’m perfectly imperfect, Dad.” The mantle is perfectly imperfect and Kevin would have told me to leave it alone, too.

Our new Christmas tree is up and ready for Christmas. Our old tree gave Brenda and me 9 good Christmases together. We bought that old tree in 2013 just before Brenda had her cancer surgery because the usual 10 foot x 500 lb real Noble Fir (honest!) was too heavy for her to help me with. The last three Christmases with the old tree were difficult, and we would spend up to 3 hours (or even more) trying to match up the 10 connectors for the lighting system. This new tree connects in three places in the centre, when you slide the next section of the tree into the centre trunk it connects automatically. That’s way, way easier than taking the 10 connectors on the old tree and trying to match them up with their mate when the sticky markers had fallen off. We like this new tree a lot better, and our grandkids Penélope (in Malta) and Oscar (in North Vancouver) helped me pick out the new tree when they voted for the coloured lights instead of the white ones.

Thanks, P and Oscar! You both picked the coloured tree just like me, so I took the tree with the white lights back to Home Depot.

Footnote … Craig and I have been having daily conversations lately. We’ve re-established our communications in a meaningful way since Kevin died. Similar to the conversations that Kevin and I re-established just before Covid hit us all.

Craig’s and my conversation last night was especially meaningful and healing. He had shared a YouTube music video with me of a song that he loved. I didn’t know the song off hand, it was from a group that I knew reasonably well, It also happens to be a song that he claims is the only song he feels comfortable singing karaoke with his friends. Not sure if I want to be there next time he does sing it, but I hope he sings it loud and proud!

Y’all know the drill … just click the above image to watch!

When we were discussing the song, I made reference to the bridge of the song. The bridge of the song is what Craig referenced when he told me his favourite part to sing. Interestingly, he then reminded me that he had written a poem several years ago called Bridge.

Now Craig’s Bridge and the bridge of the Hip’s song are not related in any way whatsoever. But as Craig and I were discussing his poem and how he had crafted it, he kept referring to the final stanza of the poem, which was different than the previous three stanzas. The three previous stanzas had 5 lines while the final 4th stanza had 4 lines and a different cadence. If this poem of Craig’s was a song, the final stanza would have made the perfect “bridge.”

And it’s Craig’s bridge that is helping us to heal. Keep moving forward, that’s what Kevin would have wanted us to do so we can help ourselves to heal.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours … Keith