Matt was so sick, so close to death. He was on hospice for eight months. In his last two days all the signs that the body was emptying were there. I could touch his hand, but his heart was beginning to turn in another direction. I knew he was to die soon, but no matter how many minutes were left to us, it was always going to be too soon. I just wanted one more day.

Benjamin ClosureClosure is defined as finality. But for me, there is nothing final in loss. Life does not begin with birth and does not end with death. In the coming and going of every moment there is a beginning and an end. Every season…everyone…every moment closes into an opening.

Closure is both an end and a beginning. The question is what ends and what begins? Where do the two meet?

I have only lost one dear one to an unexpected death. We knew for years my wife and two children’s deaths would ultimately come. I had three months warning that my mother’s cancer was to take her; five months shadowed the end of my brother’s life this last August. But Alan’s death came the night before we were to have coffee the next morning.

Alan was my dearest friend for over thirty years. He walked next to me through both the births and deaths of my children. He knew Lydia. He loved Lydia. He loved me as much as I loved him.

It’s been three years since I last laughed with Alan. There was laughter at his funeral, but not his. I miss his laugh.

About I month ago I went back to Half Moon Bay to walk the burial waters of Lydia, Matt and Bryan. I have walked that path for many years. I have had many beginnings and endings there.

Benjamin Closure end beginningI instinctively drove to Alan’s house. It looks the same, but nothing was the same. I sat in my car knowing someone else now sits in the living room. I remember the times Lydia and I spent there, the times Lydia, Matt and I spent there, the times Matt and I spent there, and the times when it was only me left to spend time with Alan. And now there was only me, outside a house I will never enter again.

What surprised me most was the charge of emotions that swept over me sitting in front of Alan’s home that is now a house. I miss him terribly. I’m angry at him. He took on too much. He didn’t take care of his body. He carried too much stress. He was way too young. I’m angry that he’s gone. There were no goodbyes. There was no closure.

It has taken me a long time to grieve Alan. The abrupt end left me wandering in my labyrinth of loss looking for the beginning. There are no soft edges when the end of one way of love alters without warning, without preparation. I had no defenses against the magnitude of loss and its robbing me of closure.

When his life ended, it gave me no starting point. I had to find a new beginning with Alan. It’s like being pushed into an unfamiliar room that is utterly dark and no way to see.

The funeral was not closure for me. I understand their need, but I need more. Bryan’s death was a blur. Lydia and I were so focused on Matt that my grieving did not begin or end at the graveside service. When Lydia died, the funeral was for others. All I cared about was being totally present for Matt, our nine-year-old child who just lost his mother. I needed to walk beside the pieces of his broken heart, gathering all I could in the wake of his loss.

When Matt died there was no shattered heart to hold other than mine. His funeral was beautiful, but quite frankly, the more people that gather in that space the more painful it is for me.

My beginnings and endings begin in solitude. My closure comes out of emptiness filling and emptying again. I need time alone to find the crossroad of this and that, what was and what is now, what goes and what remains…and what goes on.

As I sat before what once was Alan’s home, I realized I had not finished what ended. I know well the path of healing and where my relationship with another in loss resides in its unfolding. I was surprised at the texture of my sorrow in my loss of Alan.

Endings never really end. Beginnings are never really over. However, there are many touchstones along the path that tell me where I am in the ending or what part of the beginning I inhabit.

And to make it even stranger, beginnings and endings can be overlaid in my Afterloss. I can be in both at the same time. It is not an either/or. Beginnings and endings can be a both/and.

Others want me to find closure. Closure is an illusion. There is no finality in loss. There are multiple beginnings and endings.

I will always want one more day. Every exhale yearns for an inhale. Every moment yearns for another. And every heart yearns for one more embrace. There is not one day since they have died I have not yearned for one more day. Is that part of my beginning? Is it part of my ending? Or is it both?

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