Prayerful Mantis

One year ago today in the U.K., we celebrated the life, and our love of Dean Eldridge. I just spoke with my boyfriend, Lee, Deano’s brother. He’s currently working in the Czech Republic. Those of us who have supported someone through losing and grieving their favorite person on Earth know what it takes…everything we have. All the tools come out of the box to be used-- every moment demands a different sensitivity, a deeper perspective, a truer expression.

Grief does crazy things to us, makes us feel sensations we have long buried, elicits reactions we did not know we were capable of having. We should make t-shirts or signs that read, “Please forgive me. I am grieving and I may misbehave.” Anyway this is for my beautiful man and also for those who have walked beside anyone in deep grief. It is as difficult a spiritual practice, becoming a steward of the necessary solitude, and suffering, as any. 

I thought about how to honor Deano best. I realized it was to write him a letter. It went something like this:

Dear Ever-Beloved Deano,                                                                                           7/7/16

I feel a little strange writing a letter to you, as vast a space you now inhabit, but Michael Ondaatje said the closest he ever is to spirit is while he’s writing.

It has been one year since you were on Earth with us, walking, talking, eating, laughing, sleeping, and flying. One year! I can hardly believe how it has passed — in exquisite devastating pain for your friends and family, and also in the most nuanced sweetness, a heartbreak that only heals by further breaking, until there is no distance between what we love and how we let it touch us. Something truly miraculous happens then and we feel connected beyond space and time, we feel soul love.

I think of you as a dragonfly. I know you are aware of this and I bet it makes you laugh, both from the ridiculousness and the innocence. It helps me stay connected because as much as I try, I have a hard time relating to you as silence, as space, as the infinite. I still see your enviable calves, your zig-zag legs while paramotoring, all the lovely ways you were with Lee.

I am writing not so much to tell you how much you are missed, which will always be, but to celebrate your brother and the man he was before and now after your tragic death. If you were here and we could speak to one another I would say this: Lee, Loach, Leeli has inspired me beyond the intellect, beyond the conditioned patterning of being human, in a body, in a country with a job and stress. He surpassed that whole realm somehow and decided to grieve you entirely, unabashedly, risking normalcy, until he began to smile again and life took hold. It began slowly and gently, the creativity, the smile, his contagious and full-hearted laughter, maybe once a week, maybe once every two, but it did eventually return. I remember when he first had the desire to make a meal…it was gf pizza, of course it was food that finally broke through! We had never made that before. The simple goodness that he has always possessed returned full force and a confidence and joy that I had not seen overcame him, without him even aware. It was as if you gave him your breath, filled his lungs with the will to carry on without you, gave his legs the strength to take another step, to now risk becoming who he really wants to be despite the fear, the doubt, despite being human. 

What I did not expect was the effect your death would have on our relationship. We have broken open too, into a new way of seeing one another, of playing together, of listening and laughing, sometimes until we cry and then weep, holding one another, tenderly and once in a while we scream in anguish until even that becomes funny. I feel so free with him. We have no barriers to entry, no hidden places for shame or guilt to accrue and yet we are as independent and creative in our expression as ever. We are more tolerant. We are more respectful.

I just wanted you to know I am so proud of him. There were two ways this could have gone and he chose to deepen, to seek love in this life again, to remain open and let the pain and sorrow season him to greatness. There’s a childlike wonder in his eyes—I think you must have reminded him to cultivate it, as though you remember him, still boys playing in the woods, and that very remembering conjures it again. He is so lovely to me. I remember the way you and I would look at him when you were alive, the same unconditional adoration. The difference now is he has that for himself, a regard, a presence that is awakening to his own fiery magic. 

As his older brother, his best friend, his twin soul, I thought this should be written as it’s truly beautiful to behold. I know you would wish to hear it, in that other-worldly manner in which you still ‘hear’ us.

We still hold pieces of you we cannot bear to relinquish and that feels right. You are always and forever known, missed, and loved. If you are a Dragonfly, Lee is a Prayerful Mantis. 

With an infinite sea of gratitude,

Moiker (his English bastardization of my name)

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