Today I watched a mother weep for her son, a man that I once loved.

I heard his friend, a sweet guy I used to know, choke his way through a eulogy for someone who considered him family.

I witnessed big brother, and cousins, and friends act as pallbearers for a person who will never reach the age of 40.

My heart hurts for them and for the man they mourn. I knew him as a boy- just barely a teenager, and as a younger man—on the edge, his innate charm always riddled with doubt and anger, distrust and bad decisions.

He, like two other childhood peers this past year, left this world too early. Among other wonderful things, troubled, hurting, broken people who couldn’t find their way.

I don’t judge their pains. I too, have been troubled. I too, have been broken. I too, need to get my grounding sometimes, look to my compass and figure out which way to go. In those moments, when I can’t discern where the light is, I just go. I go in whatever direction I can and hope for the best because I know there, in that dark place, I cannot stay.

Some people cannot get enough footing to move.

The pain of those lost in such circumstances lives in those who they have left. Those who couldn’t save them. The burdens they carried bleed into the burden of knowing you were not enough.

Watching a loved one hurt so badly is horribly cruel. With grief sometimes comes an unspeakable breath of relief that they have reached peace. A relief which in itself can bring guilt.

Anger at the hurt or troubles they’ve caused. Anger that they couldn’t find a lighthouse and at the potential that was never cashed in.

Regret at the things you did or didn’t say or do.

Sometimes, but quite often not, acceptance that you weren’t equipped to repair a soul so badly injured.

Last night, after many years, the man they lost visited me in a dream. Still unable to share space, I didn’t see his face, but in this abstract bubble understood his presence.

I know there were many good days with my boyfriend of a lifetime past. I remember many worse times. But today, I let these go and I am glad for his peace. I hope memories of a young friendship will eclipse the others.

Mostly, I hope for the peace of those closest to him. Those who feel his absence as they feel their breath – internal and ever present.

Peace for the big brother, kind friend and lovely cousin. Peace for the grieving mother left in the unnatural position of outliving her child.

Peace, and hope, for anyone in the world who is in a dark place, with no compass in hand or land in sight. And for all those who are desperately trying to shine a light.


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