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Charlie Brown’s Holiday Hits play quietly, an auditory nod to the season. I walk in the night air, warmed by the sight of a neighbor’s tree, glowing with colored lights through the woods. The chill wind races down the ledges but the thermometer reminds me it is still the warmest year on record; 45°s on December 15th, no snow blanketing the yard. Christmas traditions arrive regardless of the weather or my mood.

My mind whirls with memories, my heart teeters on the brink of sadness but it is too easy to fall into that abyss and I would rather look for peace.  Today Duncan would have been 63 years old, and as of December 24th I will have lived half my life without him. I heard from my friend Chris in Houston who knew him very well. Her kind words and memories stirred me. It is a very small, private part of my history that catches up every once in a while.

To lose a sibling is a devastating life event. To lose anyone in a violent and seemingly senseless death is something that becomes a rip in one’s the fabric of life.  There is no good response. As a society we don’t deal well with personal tragedy. Pity is painful and only kindred spirits can look into your dark place.

I prefer to imagine his thoughts of who I, his little sister, am today. I tally the years and all that he has missed including the birth of my daughters. Lex will turn 28 this week. When I learned I was pregnant with her I calculated her birthday and wondered at the closeness to his. I looked for patterns in the weave of my story that would bind the past with the future. The threads spun into a new pattern, beyond the hole, strengthening the fabric, around and beyond the rent never healed.

Through the course of my messages with Chris, she said, “I’m not always sad about Dunc I just know HE couldn’t envision his future and that makes me sad. You’re right, he lived large while he was here and that has to be enough.”

Maybe he knew he had no future to envision and just maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps if we all focused less on the future and more on right now we would be gentler and kinder. starting with ourselves. The spirit of the season will always embody my big brother and the lesson he left me with – if you dwell on the past or strive for the future you will miss what today has to offer.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Duncan and I, 32 years ago in Indonesia

18 comments on “Spirits…

  1. Touring NH says:

    Sadly, it is a lesson seldom ever learned until tragedy strikes. The wisdom of those words is lost on people who can not relate. I’m glad you can find a bit of peace with happy memories.

    1. Thank you Laura. Many have a hard time this season. I wish them all peace and warm memories to replace the pain and sadness.

  2. Doppleganger says:

    I remember how close you were, peas in the proverbial pod. Bittersweet though it may be, living in the moment, this time of year, does bring wonders, sights, smells, joy and certainly family, if we stop and smell the roses a moment in this hustle bustle of season. Gather family close, marvel at the lights, create some delicious food that you are so good at and send mouth watering smells throughout the house. Take one of your walks in the evening look up at the stars and tell Duncan all about it, each sense you acknowledge…..he is there lighting your way. Big Hug… my Doppleganger

    1. Thank you Doppleganger. Wise words and a warm hug make me smile!

  3. jaknisell says:

    I so understand your feelings about losing a sibling, as you know I also lost a big brother. Although my brother was taken by cancer, I still think about all he has missed for the past 35 years. I miss him every day and remember all the great times we had together, and smile when ever I can!

    1. A smile is the best tribute, Annie. They stay forever young in our hearts.

  4. Chris says:

    Oddly what makes me smile at this time of year is thinking of Duncan putting off his Christmas shopping until December 24 every year and then rushing around getting gifts for everyone. He did a lot of “rushing around”. Maybe that’s why he lived so large. He definitely knew how to live in the present.

    1. Thank you Chris. His shopping skills were epic! Love the memories.

  5. Fred says:

    Your post really stirred memories for me. I remember racing my buggy against his on Greentree Lane. His was faster. Also made me think of my own brothers both gone by their own hand. They are still alive in my head – still part of my family in Academy Park, and then I have to remember that they are gone.

    1. Thank you Fred. Academy Park lives on in all of our hearts who grew up there. Those who have gone too soon had an impact on who you and I are today. Stay warm and happy this holiday season while keeping their memories alive.

  6. Jim Gann says:

    If friend and events lie in our stream of life as pebbles, remember your brother of the stream that unites all. I have lost two younger brothers, I miss having one or two word conversations to describe familiar issues. No more are necessary.

  7. julieallyn says:

    My heart is heavy for you. A powerful tribute, a powerful photograph. My manager at work, a fantastic woman – someone I’ll gladly call a friend once I retire! – lost her brother and sister-in-law on Monday of Thanksgiving week. Her nephew (their son) killed them and she just returned to work two days ago. I would love to share this with her (if I thought it might help) but I know that it is probably far too soon.

    Big hug, my friend.

    1. Thank you Julie. The best you can do as a friend is to let her rant when she needs to with no answers or thoughts offered and to let her sit quietly when that is needed. I’m so sorry for her loss and know you will be there for her.

  8. That’s true; right now is all we really have.

    1. Why is it such a hard concept for people to grasp?

      1. I’m not sure. I guess it’s too easy to live in the past and make plans for the future, even though the past is gone and the future isn’t here.

  9. Marie Keates says:

    Christmas and s always a time for reflecting on those who are no longer with us. Bittersweet memories.

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