When Matt was three, his little brother was close to death. After work I would take him to the park. On the way home one day he said to me out of the blue, “When I die, Mickey is going to come get me and we’re going to dance on the clouds.”

Benjamin Nothing lives in separationLife comes to us, death comes to us, in ways we can understand. If Matt had died at three, I believe Mickey Mouse would have been there waiting. I believe in love. I believe love has many names. I believe love has no name at all. I simply believe there is only love.

Matt did not die at three. Bryan died when Matt was three. Lydia died when Matt was nine. Matt died when he was thirteen. It was not Mickey that met Matt. It was not Mickey that met Bryan at the end of his eight and half months. It was love.

When I was twenty I had a major car accident and a near death experience. Love met me in a form I could understand. I had an interpretation of that experience that has evolved over the years, but one element of that experience that has remained constant was the peace and love that still permeates the encounter.

There are all sorts of theories on what happens when we die. I do not live on theory. I live by experience. I know the theory of how the brain operates at the moment of death and what we experience is nothing more than memory and then there is nothing. I do not hold to that theory. That was not, and is not, my experience.

I know what I experienced in that encounter with death was absolutely instrumental in holding a space for Bryan, Lydia and Matt as they gravitated to the moment of death and beyond. The peace I felt in that moment of death was the peace I gave in every moment of our life together.

There are a lot of theories about death and what happens. There are theologies and philosophies that attempt to explain the unexplainable. We use a lot of words, create paradigms, construct beliefs, etc. I tried to make sense of what death means so life could be more palatable.

I have spent most of my life trying to make sense of what life means, but it has been impossible to address why I’m here until I incorporate where it leads. Life leads to death. So, where does death lead?

It is not a theoretical question for me. What I am really asking when I ponder where death leads is where do the ones I love go? A layer below that is the question of where does my love go? Beneath that is where will I go? There are so many layers, but these are my entry points to the multi-layers of loss and the meaning of death.

Let me assure you. This is not a mere intellectual exercise for me. My heart is deeply involved in this quest. The mind does not placate my pain. Theories do not solve my sorrow or the emotional upheaval of loss. Mental constructs do not calm my fear, extinguish my anger or rage, walk me down from a panic attack, or soothe my sorrow. I have yet to find for me a way to think my way into peace.

In fact, I had to let go of every belief I had to find what I truly believe. I had to shed everything to make it to the epicenter of my experience in life/death to find my way out again to what works for me on this plane of existence. I could carry nothing into the core of my being. To reach beyond the concentric circles of jargon and theories I had to let go of everything.

Letting go of everything was the most painful part of my loss. I had lost the ones I love most. When I could no longer hold them I could no longer hold on to anything. It was worse than death. My near death experience was one of great beauty. This experience of death, however, was ugly. For death left me living, living the empty part of life. Words, beliefs, theories didn’t matter because all that mattered was gone.

It was there, in void of all that is, that I experienced what is. I experienced love – nameless love…indescribable love. Even the word love falls short of the experience. There simply are no words that I have found that come close to what lies deepest.

Benjamin TheoriesSo, when people use words to describe what life and death mean to them, or what love means, or what anything means, I have no judgment. I know words separate what is ultimately inseparable. I know how feeble my attempts at words are and my real journey lies beyond words.

Mickey Mouse did not come for Matt. I assume Matt did not dance on the clouds the moment of his death. At the age of thirteen, someone else came for Matt. In his final breath, many came for Matt. But the day before he died, Matt had a conversation with someone that Matt could trust.

We were lying next to each other on the bed when Matt looked off into the distance. He asked me, “What did he say?”

I responded, “Who? What did who say?”

Matt said, “He says he’s the Boatman.”

Matt loved Greek Mythology. We read every night a story out of specific book that detailed the Greek experience. Every night in the last years of his life, I would ask him what he would like to read and he always picked this book.

I do not remember a story of the Boatman and the River Styx in the book. I cannot recall how the Boatman takes souls from this life across the river to the Afterlife in that particular book. I’m not even sure it was one of the stories we read night after night.

“What is he saying, Matt?”

Matt listened for a minute and said to me, “He said he will guide us safely.”

Was it the Boatman that came for Matt? Was it Mickey Mouse? Was it Lydia that waited for him?

I have no name. All I know is it was love, the same love we shared every moment of life, was who took Matt in death. You can call it whatever you want. I simply choose to call it love.

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