March 20, 2020

Dipping into the dark: timely lessons of the Equinox. (March 20)


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My little brother died on the Spring Equinox.

In the first moments after hearing of his death, I sat on the stoop of my apartment in the dissolving daylight, stunned. Even then, nowhere close to metabolizing the fact that he was actually gone, I thought—you will not be you are now, who you were 20 minutes ago, before the phone rang.

A few weeks after his death, I realized he’d died on the Equinox. It seemed like a cruel joke—the first day of spring, a time for soft green buds and damp soil, not a time for a 21-year-old to die from drugs and alcohol.

Later, I saw it differently.

Before my brother died, I hadn’t experienced a hardship that couldn’t, at least theoretically, be solved. I’d suffered from unrequited love, experienced clinical depression, felt lonely and lost and lacking. But I’d never been shattered so hard, never had someone so young and loved yanked away forever, leaving behind our pained parents, leaving me wondering if I was, without my brother, still a sister.

I dove deep into the dark.

I sat on the porch, pleading for signs that he still existed somewhere, somehow. I whispered to him, heard the stilted sound of my own voice, small and scared. I stared at drifting night clouds, wondered how they could separate and remake themselves so easily, without sound or storm.

With time, my eyes adjusted to the lack of light.

Even in the beginning, there were little blessings, lighter shades of night. A reconnection with close family friends who were also grieving. I was more present than I could ever remember, dipped into each moment of fierce pain, each brief respite of relief. My old ways of coping with pain no longer worked—I couldn’t drink or drug my way out—I refused to do that to my parents. I couldn’t daydream or eat or diet my way out. I could only sink into the loss that felt bottomless, praying that someday, my toes would touch sand.

In pools of darkness, the excess whittled away. Relationships that no longer worked. Coping strategies that no longer worked.

When I began to resurface, I was not who I’d been.

Having come to know the darkness, I was, at times, dripping with light.

In the Japanese art of Kintsugi, ceramic artists repair broken pottery. Instead of camouflaging the cracks, they embellish them. They dust them with gold, coating the jagged edges with light.

We are in dim and unfamiliar times.

We will not be who we were before. We will be revised, reshaped. We may wear new cracks in places we thought were strong.

But we were made for this time of Equinox. We have, since the beginning of time, dove deep into the dark. Then we surface, ready to dust our scars in gold. Wiser with shades of darkness, drenched in light.


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