(Blurred photo taken this morning speaks to how memory blurs and creates a timeless clarity)
Yesterday was the anniversary of my little brother’s death. It was such a beautiful day with a lovely rose and crimson sunset and a white blossoming Little Bear Moon rising high through the trees. Best of all, the last twenty-four hours have been framed by the Great Horned owl’s call before dawn each morning. This most beloved of owls…
This morning I stood chilled in the blood filled pre-dawn riveted by that deep whoohing… After listening to the male’s courtship song, I could still hear the sound of that resonant whoohing in my body, though my mind was telling me that I was imagining it. A call to Love. I felt some strange power pulsing through me.
Great Horned owls attach me to my mother and my Motherline, but today the call seemed unusually poignant until I read the words below.
Owl always creates a resonance for me that literally bridges worlds.
“I was young and he was younger.
they cut him down before his time.
time took me far from him and farther, his
falling body, there in the distance, that shadow,
here in my heartbeat forever, that horror.
him underground and me under leaves,
years and years of fallen leaves.”
When I read these words the terrible grief surfaced flowing through my body as I “re- membered” how my brother simply disappeared into thin air…catapulting me into the underworld for more than a decade.
It was 32 years before I was finally able to bury his ashes under an emerald moss -covered stone named Trillium Rock, a boulder that the glacier left next to my brook. It was a raw rainy April “Earth Day.” Today, wildflowers cover his grave along with a fossilized spiral, a large ammonite that is perched in a niche in the stone.
Red Tailed Hawks, my brother’s favorite birds, bore witness for an entire week after his burial. They kept watch sitting above the brook in trees regarding me with piercing yellow eyes whenever I approached the heavily forested area. Red tails normally like open spaces …
The terrible dreams that I had each year on or around his death day – the ones in which he was always wandering and could find no rest – stopped.
No one’s ashes should be abandoned and hidden in an attic for 32 years.
Each year I accept that the cycle of grief will live on, perhaps beyond my death. For me this sorrow is written into the stars and the Earth beneath my feet because my brother was my Beloved.
Unlike the words in the poem there is no horror attached to this burial.
I scattered my brother’s bones in a small depression that I had carved out in the half-frozen ground next to the rock. His ashes lay amongst dead leaves. I gathered a few fragile bluish bone fragments to scatter in the rushing spring brook. The Earth took him to Her and loved him.
And finally, I believe, we both found peace.