I was halfway through my day yesterday before I realized it was Patrick’s birthday — I was putting a date on an invoice, actually, when I saw that it was the thirteenth. That felt like a real achievement, to have gotten to a place where the day was just a day, with a memory attached to it, but mostly good memories, and not a day that stabs one in the heart. I put a nice old photo of the two of us up on Facebook, since a number of my “friends” on FB are friends of his and I like the idea that he lives on in the memories of those who loved him. We all had a little moment, raised a glass to his memory, and moved on again.
There’s a quote from Fenton Johnson’s terrific book Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey that I have had on my corkboard for years:
Before all else, we must define ourselves in some place other than our wounds — to find the courage to define ourselves rather than let our wounds define us. This is the great challenge and forgiveness the means through which it is accomplished. Faith incarnates itself not in beliefs but in acts; not in what I believe about God but in the moment-to-moment decisions I make in choosing how to live this day, how to be one with myself and to love and respect and forgive myself and my neighbor. In this it is a necessary condition for wisdom
It’s been a long journey, and while losing your brother isn’t something you ever “get over,” it is a great relief no longer to live in the place of my greatest wound. I love my little life. I love my house and my sweetheart and my dear friends in this strange and wonderful little town I found.
Eight years. It’s a long time, but good to have finally washed up on the far shore.