Even in my most solitary moments, I am not alone. I feel a presence. There is something beyond this moment, yet within this moment, that envelops my sorrow and rests in the depths of my being.

Benjamin Not aloneOthers have names for this presence. Others have paradigms that define and explain the experience of presence.  The closest I can come to describing the indescribable it is the presence of love.

Wherever I travel in my world of the Afterloss, I find this presence of love. Even in my sorrow, my pain, my emptiness there is this reflection of love. I have raged against the cruelty. I have emptied and refilled and emptied over and over the tears that fill my Afterloss and they fall like rain on the landscape of love.

Every emotion known to mankind is known to me. I have wandered the wilderness of my Afterloss feeling anger, guilt, shame, joy, gratitude, fear, happiness, sorrow…and each feeling rests in presence…in love.

For years I tried to define the experience of presence. I thought if I could just figure it out, if I could just understand or make sense of why I had to watch my wife and two children slowly die before my eyes, then the senselessness would make sense.

I had theories, theological precepts, systematic reasoning that fell short of making sense of my life and their deaths. I questioned everything, searched everywhere and every pathway in my Afterloss took me to the same place; it took me to the presence of love.

There is nothing that I have found that is outside the realm of love. One professor I had gave the perfect definition of hell. From his theological perspective he said, “ Hell is not outside of God. Nothing is outside of God or there would be two Gods. God is love. Hell is being unconditionally loved and rejecting that love.”

In my anger and hurt I rejected love. I saw no love in the torturous days where I helpless witnessed the painful demise of the ones I love. How could love be so cruel? I hated love. I cursed love. I rejected love. And all the while I was loved.

Unconditional love is absolute freedom. This love set me free to hate, curse and reject love itself. This love embraced me, tenderly held me in my anguish, was there in my children’s first breath and in their last. This love loved me.

All this love has ever asked of me is to be real. I have never shied away from any part of me for in my authentic search I always found the authentic presence of love.

Love hurts. Love heals.

Ten years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Due to its advanced nature of the disease she decided not to take any aggressive action. It was three months from diagnosis to death. Bryan, Lydia and my youngest child, lived three months from diagnosis to death. I know how months, days and minutes slip into another time where clocks have no measurement. Three months becomes a lifetime that passes too quickly.

My mother had a difficult life and a difficult death. She paid a high price for her passage through this time and space. She was a woman who loved deeply, but in the darkness of her pain found it difficult to be loved.

In the closing days of her days here she was in and out of consciousness. She shared with me her fears, her disappointments and what she felt was waiting for her.

The only thing I could give her was the only thing I have found through all my years of loss, life and death. As she went between this realm and the next, I stroked her hair and said, “There is only love.”

Over and over I shared with her the experience of every breath I’ve taken, every pain I’ve absorbed, every sorrow that has seared my soul, every joy I’ve embrace and every piece of my peace. “There is only love. There is only love.”

Benjamin Darkest momentsLove is not just an emotion. It is a state of being. Love is presence. And I have yet to find in all of my wanderings through all of my moments where there is an absence of love and the experience of presence.

You can put a name on this presence. I know many find great comfort and meaning in naming this love. As for me, this presence, this love is found beyond words and within everything.

It is within my darkest moments where I have found myself without words to describe the most brilliant presence of love. In the heights of my joy and the depths of my sorrow I have come to believe that there is only love. No matter where I go, how I feel or what I question, I have found this presence waiting, waiting to love me, waiting to love.



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