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  • Writer's pictureSheylan Yearsley

The fires are still burning

Dear Brook,

A year ago, the fires were burning bright for you. The tears and alcohol were flowing in abundance as we—your people—gathered together for you. A year ago, the true, unbearable, unfathomable weight of your body leaving this earth was felt. A year ago, we carried you down the mountainside—so many strong hands and bodies striving with all our might to magic you back among us. We wanted you: your presence, your light, your depth, the palpable weight of your love in our arms.

Speaking for myself, I had no idea how I'd manage to live and navigate the world without you, without your pure presence, the way your hugs were so strong and your breath so deep, and your eyes so clear when you listened or spoke with me. Walking down that mountainside with you, I felt lost... but also comforted by the depth and love of your community. Somehow, as I looked at all of the faces smiling through the tears, bodies hugging through the pain, I knew somewhere, deep inside that we would be capable of meeting this moment and all of the painful ones to follow. That somehow, we would meet you in that great, terrifying challenge you were putting before us. One way or another, we would learn how to keep on living, how to put one foot in front of the other keep moving forth with love in our hearts and kindness in our eyes.

Over the past year, I've risen and slipped and risen again. I've dipped deep into the darkness of sorrow, unable to wrap myself around the spaces where I can no longer find you. I've also worked to open myself to you in the deeper flows you always spoke of. In meditation, I've found myself feeling the playful fringes of your breeze, slipping by my face. I've heard your voice in my head, time and again, in that infuriating lighthearted assurance: "No Problem". I've witnessed your son living as I remember you when you were little. Just today, I felt you slide your strength into my body. I stood straighter and stronger as a result.

So tonight, in the quiet solitude of the darkening sky, I go out under the big maple tree where you once reminded me that "Love grows with love given." I lit candles, played my Tibetan singing bowl, and took a gulp of bourbon from the bottle. I cried and let my breath go. Then I turned around and watched the sky fill with the unending stars and the growing moon.

Brook, I miss you every day. I love you every day. Please, know this: your fires are burning everywhere. We feel and live in your love every day. I have no doubt that you are surfing the great, unending waves of the galaxy, getting fresh tracks in new cascades of stars. I hope it's wildly fun. I love you. Forever.


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