Grief & Glory

What Angels Want Us to Know: Life After Guilt

Even when things seem so grim & a realization of so much loss pierces deep within, it is these moments that my angels are there to rescue more than ever. Without fail, the dragonflies come out to swirl around, reminding me I’m not alone.

When I think of the confusing and complicated guilt I experience for being the last one left to stand, I take my evening strolls out to the azul water that is my backyard, siempre in search of peace. The other day while in a dark head space, I thought, maybe my angels actually got the better end of the deal. This world, as beautiful as it is, can be so very painful… at least they are together, in peace. But, just as I was beginning to slip down the rabbit hole, the dragonflies began to dance against the masterpiece of a backdrop, a pink lit sky and blistering ball of solar energy beaming over the water.

As I returned back from my evening with the divine, my best friend that channels had reached out to me. She said my brother, unclear which one, had softly contacted her to send me a message. Just some days before, I had been suffering then as well from a plummeting feeling of feeling lost. I was seriously questioning my own existence in the very scary kinda way. My friend shared with me the message of simple and touching relevancy, that I am ‘right’ and to keep doing what I’m doing. So just when I was feeling the crash that is life with a mood disorder, and or just life… I realized what a blessing it is to have angels intervene when I’m pleading to know if I’m going to be okay. And, how miraculous it is to have that sort of love surrounding me at all times, protecting me, and sending me clarity when the fog moves in. To let me know I am still here for a reason. To let me know that I am indeed shielded by love.

I do have to say, I’m pretty fucking ready to leave this experience behind… that is, the first one-year anniversary of my brother’s death… and basically, all the terrible memories that coexisted with this time last year. As much as my guilt may want to hang onto them, I know to move beyond surviving to thriving is to release the guilt. The present does include pain that has yet to fully heal, so the reality is the past, unfortunately, exists within the present. However, I can stay there, or choose to try to move forward one more step of the way, as the pain stays one step further behind.

What I’ve discovered is the guilt keeps me “safe.” The guilt, the pain, the story… it is all a toxic high that of course is superseded by a crashing low. It’s moving out into the unknown space of joy that is the real work. It has been easier for me to be afraid of more pain so that I stay in my excuse of pain.

I started dating again a few months ago after moving literally and figuratively into new space. I have vaguely shared already that I went through a pretty bad breakup as well this time last year, which naturally was what exacerbated the already gut-wrenching period of mourning. It was the core-shaking, yet illusive experience of love-at-first-sight, in which crashed & crumbled during the time one would presumably need support the most. The truth is though, I had everything I needed & still do. But, those lessons were to be learned in the most hardcore of hours. When you’ve lost that much, it’s kinda like, fuck it… I guess I’m sorta liberated now. Or, so I thought…

As I found myself back on the dating scene and after meeting someone I was actually interested in, I was overwhelmed with vulnerability. Bombarded by a surplus of “what-if’s,” I didn’t know if I was capable of enduring more pain, so instead I would not let myself leave the pain behind. I was bound to it out of survival, without realizing it was keeping me from living my life… it was keeping me from joy. Even as I proclaimed that I wanted otherwise, I was actually avoiding joy by avoiding imagined pain.

I was self-sabotaging because of survivor’s guilt. It’s a difficult thing to articulate, but perhaps it’s as simple as this… I have felt guilty for wanting joy. I felt guilty for believing there could be joy without my brothers in the world. Or, that I owe it to them to stay in the misery of their loss. Which of course, though, this I know… a life full of joy is exactly what my brothers want for me.

To live the life I have left. And if anything, for them, that is the way to truly honor their loss —to live so fiercely & courageously on their behalf.

So today on August 1, it is my brother Patrick’s birthday. This time last year I was thousands of miles away saying my last I love you over the phone, as he was bedridden in the hospital, struggling to speak. A week later after his 33rd birthday, he was gone.

The months that followed thereafter were a nightmare, yes. Those days and nights where I felt like a walking zombie, unsure if I was going to come back to life or not… I really didn’t know if I was gonna make it through. But it is these memories that I must no longer attach to so that I can grow with my brothers in a new way. By putting my hand out to accept a dance with the divine is how I get to experience… the magic of the dragonflies.

And you know, it’s really fucking hard sometimes. It really is, but I have to believe I am still here for a reason and they are not… AND THIS IS OKAY. I have to trust the cards were supposed to be dealt this way, and that yes, at least they are together in peace. A life left full of guilt will never bring them back to physical life…

But the magic that is pure love… will always keep them alive.

A Happy Birthday to my late brother, Chef Patrick

Right Where He Belonged, RIP Chef Patrick & Chef Bourdain

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