It’s the first day of the year and I cut all my bracelets off.
Every single one. I took all my anklets and rings off too, just for the hell of it.
All that’s left is my wedding ring.
I went outside to sit by Pepper’s grave to cut the bracelets off there. I like the idea of little colored beads scattered across his resting place. I put on Nahko’s “Black as Night” on loud volume and opened the windows so I could hear the music from the garden. I cried for a while and then I took a deep breath and just started cutting them off, one at a time.
When I got to the last ones, the ones made with string from Andrea’s braids, I almost couldn’t breathe and it felt so unreasonable, so much—this letting go.
I’ve never taken any of these bracelets off. I sleep with them and practice with them and I wore them when we got married and the whole situation is just so absurd. Nahko is singing I believe in the good things coming coming coming and it’s January first and I’ve been wanting this year to be over for so long and now I’m sitting on Pepper’s grave cutting your bracelets off my wrist and I don’t know if that’s okay and I say where are you can you please just give me a sign?
At that exact moment, really, at that very second, I heard a loud crash coming from inside the house. It sounded like one of my sisters had fallen or something so I put the scissors down and ran into the living room.
No one was there, but—my altar had fallen over.
The wind must have blown into the house in a strange way, I don’t know, but it had toppled over and everything was on the floor. I couldn’t believe it. It was so strange. But also… Not strange at all.
All of a sudden, everything just made perfect sense. I wiped my tears and picked everything up and swept the floor. Then I went back outside and cut the very last bracelet off my wrist.
Letting go means releasing the pain, not the love.
Love stays. Pain leaves.
When loved ones pass away, they don’t go very far. We can’t lose them. They stay close enough to give us signs when we need them but far enough for new love to grow from the space in between.
Love can’t die. Love just is.
My wrists are bare. I feel light. I am grateful.
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Author: Rachel Brathen
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: courtesy Rachel Brathen
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