Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of life without my big brother, David. He is remembered by me with love and compassion, a compassion that I didn’t have the understanding of until after he left us.
To many, he was just an alcoholic. To his family and friends, he was sensitive, funny, generous, selfish, troubled and angry. His life and his death touched so many and in coming to terms with it over the last four years, and many more before his death, I have been forever changed.
I have come to the conclusion that as a society, we are fed the wrong information. This makes our world cold and harsh and we judge people and we pity them and see them as broken or selfish or weak and this only makes matters worse for us and for them.
I have learnt not to believe that someone is broken. I have learnt to see through their pain and the years of misunderstanding and judgement. I have learnt to look through all outward expression of dysfunction and despair and I look instead at the healthy, happy soul beneath. I connect with the healthy person. No matter how suppressed that healthy spirit is or has been, no matter how many years spent in wretchedness, and confusion, we are all loving souls who need to be reached or else we die. And I have found that when I do, the healthy person is the one who speaks back to me.
David taught me the lesson of my life. Never to see anyone as broken, including ourselves. Never want to ‘fix’ someone. Because to do so is to say to them – if you were someone else, someone I could approve of, someone I could understand, I would be able to love you and that would make me happy. But is isn’t true, because I already loved him completely. His inability to understand that was not his issue, it was mine, because my love was clouded by own perception of how things ‘should be’.
So, instead of the cheery birthday cards intended to boost his morale, and advising him off the drink, why didn’t I just let him know every day in small ways that I love him? Why didn’t I just tell him that? No ‘if only’s’, no ‘but’s’. Why didn’t I say all the things I would like to say to him now – like how proud I am of him. How grateful I am to have had him as my brother. Why didn’t I just tell him the truth, that I love him more than he will ever know? Why didn’t I just say I’m here for him? Why did I need more from him? Why did I need him to be fixed? Was it for him, or for me? Why did I believe it when he pushed me away? Why didn’t I stand firm and let him know he’ll never be without my love?
Why did he find more love in a bottle than he found in his family?
I didn’t know better. That’s why. We didn’t know better. We just didn’t know any better. I didn’t know that inside he was healthy and loving and I could connect with him there. There were occasions, but they became few and far between. I was in such a dark place myself, it was like being down a well and not knowing that there is sunshine and waterfalls and butterflies if only I could reach the top and look out.
When someone is in trouble, we believe that they are the ones who are ill. When in fact, we are down the well with them. Our job is not to attempt to carry them on our backs as we make our wretched journey out of the well, because we are not strong enough for two. If they wobble, they will fall back down, and we, exhausted and more and more desperate will tumble down with them, try to pick them up and start climbing again. No, we can only climb out ourselves, gain a sure footing and call back down to let them know that it is not only safe to do so, but it is well worth the effort. We can describe how beautiful it is as we breach the top. We can throw down a rope and let them know how wonderful it would be if they would climb out too because we are there for them waiting to give them a hand up.
So, David gave us the greatest sacrifice of all. He gave his life, in order that we should understand the harshness of the society we live in and the separation it brings. His sensitivity and determination to uncover the truth no matter what his personal cost, was in answer to a calling – a deep inner belief that society needs to open its heart and stop criticising, blaming and judging others. His message has not been lost on me.
For David’s sake. For my friend Joanna’s sake, and for David’s best friend Andy’s sake, and to prevent more sensitive souls teaching us this lesson the hardest way they can, let us learn and look only inside for what needs to change in our society.
We are love at our core. Everyone is love at their core. All the rest is just smoke screens and barriers, built over the years to protect us, but this place of protection is the most vulnerable and frightening place to be. Let’s look at our own barriers and tear them down. They don’t protect us, they separate us, they create fear in us. When we bid them all farewell, and open to love, we are at peace with ourselves and with everyone.
In deepest gratitude to you, my brother, David.