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One week ago, I lost someone.
A few months ago, I sat in a therapy session discussing something I recognized in myself. Through conversations with others, I realized I have lost an unnatural amount of loved ones in my life.
Almost four weeks ago, something happened to me that shattered my whole world and since it happened, the pieces have been forming back together in the essence of gorgeous stained-glass cathedral windows and created space for what was to come.
One week ago, I lost someone.
Until I lost him, I was heavy with the burden of the number of loved ones I have lost.
My grandma and my mama. My grandpa and my papa. My daddy. Two girls in my class who were impactfully kind to me when I had been bullied. A boy who was best friends with my best friend. My first boyfriend, the one that I first shared an “I love you” with, the person who introduced me to Led Zeppelin. Someone else I had a special relationship with, to suicide, after we lost his dad, to suicide. Someone who I can hardly speak about without crying—when his death happened, it caused waves in many…I thought I was numb to death by this time.
The last three happened to one amazing family and, to this day, I still carry them with me, and they give me strength instead of falling apart. They pulled together; they’re still standing.
I can do this. Another dear friend soon after, and before we had finished healing from the last big hit.
And then a lull. I thought I had experienced enough grief in an entire lifetime, and I would be spared forever past that point.
When I lost my father, I was across the country from him, living in Massachusetts. He was unmarried and he and his girlfriend lived together in Arizona.
That made me his power of attorney, his decision-maker.
That was the longest plane ride of my life and when I finally gave “Big Bang Theory” a try. Sheldon, I appreciate you for carrying me on that flight.
He told me he never wanted to be kept alive by machines, and he wanted to be cremated. Scattered at Bear Canyon in Colorado.
His girlfriend swore he said Palm Canyon in Arizona.
Well, Dad, your darling daughter took you to both.
Palm Canyon is a small mountain range, but large because, well, mountains.
It’s named as such because it’s in the middle of the desert, but there is this special little meeting of mountains that creates a perfect ecosystem. The way the sun and shade hits. The way it magically creates precipitation.
And this little forest of palm trees is nestled in the crevice.
I never understood why people needed electrolyte beverages until that day, I am no mountain climber. I am pretty sure I would have gone unconscious without them.
Then, I got to the palms. There was this last little piece that needed professional climbing gear to get past.
No, no, no…I can do this, I have to do this…
I am certain I looked like an ant trying to climb up a glass jar.
I sobbed. I couldn’t do it, Dad.
I finally surrendered, scattering the ashes meant for that visit as I apologized to him, and in the middle of a canyon, in the dry desert air, a breeze, out of nowhere.
It picked them up, changed their direction, and carried them overhead, toward the palm trees.
Years later, the relationship that shattered life as I knew it finally brought me to Bear Canyon.
That visit was just as magical. Through a massively healing Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) session, I realized: he was never there.
“We” did not decide to go there, and “we” did not decide to change direction to find the secret peak that looked out onto hidden wildflowers and possessed the entire view.
It was me and my dad. That bad relationship, it was a vessel to get me there.
As I scattered the rest of his ashes, his white butterflies that always showed up after his passing surrounded me.
I knew you said it was Bear Canyon, Dad…
And then one week ago, I lost someone.
And seemingly, he’s more important than all the others.
When I read the message on my phone, my knees immediately hit the floor.
I lost someone who was my employee. Though, he wasn’t your average employee, no. He was a gift to this entire world and everyone he knew. His impact was astounding.
No, really, I’ve had people reach out to me all the way from Europe to Egypt about his impact, and I’m in Midwest United States.
His life changed the world. And his leaving earth-side has changed the world is going to keep changing the world, too. Long after we are all gone.
He humbled every person he came across, and his smile lit up the room—we all called it his “squinty-eyed grin,” and it makes your heart happy.
While and my staff and I made connections that you could hear and notice, his were silent and they were more impactful.
When one of my supervisors took his idea of making him a sign and ran with it, my inbox started flooding with praise of this amazing employee who changed their whole life perspective and made them feel like they could face their day.
Personally, he made me face my ugly unconscious bias and how much of a performance-driven leader I was. He was patient with me, though, as I slowed down to see the whole world as he did.
When he was heard, seen, understood, loved, celebrated, and held accountable like everyone else, he went off to do bigger things than any of us.
He should have never had to be patient with anyone.
We are so fortunate he was patient with us and that we got to experience his love.
Through the outpour of all he touched, he is funding a non-academic scholarship named the “Fighting Heart Award” for the School of the Deaf in my state. For years to come.
He had recently signed up as an organ donor, and he is saving many lives. The helicopter pilot attended his celebration of life service, in tears. He was gone by the time he flew him away, and yet his energy still touched this stranger that brilliantly.
He was hit by a 19-year-old driver while he was riding his bicycle with his brother, who was also 19, and his other brother, 16, while all three of them were on their way to their early morning jobs.
When everyone learned the driver’s age, there was a need to find understanding.
When everyone learned the color of her skin, she was called a terrorist who needed to be punished to the full extent.
He would have hugged her and forgiven her, immediately. His family is very outspoken about this. They want her to not have any charges related to his death.
He is slaughtering the need for people to throw hateful blame at others when there’s no blame to be thrown. He has been teaching that we have to accept that some things are tragic accidents and to simply love harder instead of hate.
There is a fight happening in my home state, one in the celebration of the Fighting Heart that he was.
This special light of a human being who could tell when I was hurt, sad, irritated, anything when no one else could. He had that superpower with everyone.
He is not the only deaf person who can do that.
I have noticed a common theme amongst the deaf community that is the common theme of what is missing from the world: love.
Love, love, love, love.
Pure, genuine, unconditional love.
Love without limits. Love that does not need to be earned but is simply given.
One of my employees said it so well, “He taught us that sometimes, most times, our spoken word complicates things.”
I know I will be learning ASL now, and I feel absolutely sheepish that I have procrastinated for so long. I feel confused as to why we don’t teach it in every school. It’s much more valuable than learning calculus, in my adamant opinion.
This unbelievably beautiful community deserves for all of us to hear them.
One week ago, I lost someone. Hundreds of us, lost someone.
The moment he was gone, he sat next to me and many others.
He gave me the words to write and helped guide my actions and helped me know what to do.
He brought out every helper I needed in my mission for him.
And suddenly, just like that, the unnatural amount of death and the loss outside of death I’ve faced in my life made complete sense.
I needed that experience to help him and his loved ones with this one.
I needed to understand how short life is to be able to help celebrate his.
Every single piece of my life now seems like it’s all been the right place, and the right time.
Every pain I’ve experienced feels like it prepared me.
The first painful loss I experienced was my Papa.
He and this dear talented and gifted friend share the same birthday, September 5th.
On that day, I will always light a candle to celebrate them. And for all the loved ones who passed who helped change my life.
I know you’re all still here, making bigger waves than you could have had you stayed in human form.
It feels nearly wrong to be so elated to have been welcomed in his family as a child of their own. It feels wrong to have gained so much when they lost so much. Though, he knew that myself and my little ones needed them more than he did.
He always knew.
He will live on forever.
The mountains I have climbed all alone in my life, they were for you, my friend. You will help me climb the mountains to come with my head held high. All of us.
May we all live a life in that spirit, in that same nature. May we carry our Right Livelihood and be of benefit. May we celebrate each other fully so that we may know we didn’t waste a moment of our lives appreciating who matters.
May all who lay eyes on this find hope, peace, joy, and the kind of connection that he created.
If each of us loved as he did, this world would be a blissful and joyful place.
And if each of us turn to who matters to us and let them know just how much they do: the world will be a blissful and joyful place.
Sometimes our voices ruin that.
If this 19-year-old young and noble man would want you to know anything, it would be this:
“Stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion.” ~ Rumi
And this, also by the wise Persian poet:
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
He was a poet in his own right, without ever saying a word.
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