My brother Michael died on Monday evening. Lightning struck him and he died instantly. He was 53 years old. It was storming and he was out in it for reasons I may never completely comprehend. I did not know him very well. Our lives took different paths and we only saw each other at the occasional family gathering. My son asked me how I was feeling about the loss and I told him there is a hole where Michael use to be. I didn’t realize my brother took up so much space in me but now that he’s gone I feel the void.
You always hear how death brings people together. I have witnessed this first hand from my own family. I have taken my family for granted for years and have never really honored them in the way they deserve. They are truly beautiful people. My oldest brother Dallas is the most remarkable man I’ve ever met. The bad news seems to always fall on his shoulders and he handles it with such grace and efficiency. He has had to deal with my father’s death and my mother’s stroke and now this as well.
My brother Kevin has always put family first. He understands loyalty in ways I can only aspire to. He doesn’t hesitate to help when he can. Many a time my brother Kevin sent me money so I could buy my son and I groceries. He’s never asked for a dime back.
Michael’s daughter Maggie is so unbelievably strong in the face of such tragedy. I have never been so impressed with someone so young.
When I first heard the news I thought my brother was lying to me. The idea of being struck by lightning sounds absurd. The more I’ve had time to process this loss the more it actually makes sense to me. Michael was always daring nature to come and get him. He finally got his wish. Michael had a strong Christian faith. I have no doubt of his being in heaven. He has reached his goal and he is happy. I am happy for him.
My yoga practice has been vital to me over the past few days. My body has been stiff and sore from the grief. It’s amazing how emotions get stuck in the body. When I practice yoga I can literally feel the grief being released from my muscles and my joints. My practice has been random and intuitive, only doing the poses I’m guided to in the moment. I can tell you grief takes the breath away. I have had to remind myself over and over to breath. I’m holding my breath because I’m in pain. I’m afraid breathing deeply will make the pain more acute when the opposite is actually true.
This journey is only in it’s beginning stages. My plan for taking care of myself is to breath, practice yoga and allow the feelings to emerge as they need. I’m not sure I’ve given myself permission to grieve like this before. There were always to many things that needed to get done first. I could grieve later. This time its different and I’m honoring the grief and myself in the process.