There is a residue that resides within me. Memory that has yet to find its way into my past. What I went through is still going through me.

Benjamin May 16 How find peaceWhen I am in stillness I still feel what was felt years ago as if it was right now. And in that stillness the dust settles within me in that fine line between what was and what is. I sort through the emotional imprints examining the various clues of who I am now in the light of who I was. Some of the trace elements of my moment are remnants of the beautiful dance we shared. Others are like shrapnel lodged deep within the unrelenting memory of unforgettable sorrow.

I am not the same. Yet, I am not different. This moment will always carry that moment. This day is the culmination of all days. This tear has the trace elements of all the tears I have shed.

So what distinguishes this from that? What have I carried here, continued here, that is no longer here? Does anything every leave me? When nothing is ever over how can the world around me tell me to get over it?

Grief. Loss. Life. Sorrow. Emptiness. Loneliness. Love. I have them all, and more. Although I am keenly aware of my fragmentation, I am equally aware of the futility of compartmentalization. No part of me can be isolated, quarantined or confined to the outer limits of my being. To be all that I am I must be all that I am.

A memory brings tears of joy laced with great sorrow. Trace elements encircle every breath. I live in peace but ever conscious that the peace I walk in has been shaped by pain, suffering, deep loss and deeper love.


Benjamin May 16 I am not the sameMy peace is not the absence of torment and the torrential moments of my life. My peace comes from making peace with all that I have traveled through and all that I am.

I did the best I could. I am doing the best I can. We all did. We all do. I hold my shortcomings in my becoming. I hold the parts of me, the things I did I wish I had done differently in unconditional love. My regrets still hurt, but I lovingly hold my hurt. I offer it a place to hurt in peace.

There is no way to separate me from who I am or what I have done, or even what life has done to me. I would not hurt so deeply if I did not love just as deep, even deeper. I heard once, “We can only feel betrayed by someone we love.”

I have felt life betrayed me. Life took in death everything I loved. It took my dreams, it took my hopes, it took that part of me that sustained me when it took the ones I will always love.

My search in this life has been to find my deepest wounds. There are wounds I carry that are far deeper than loss. Loss has lanced these wounds and compounded the anguish. But there are wounds I have carried long before loss’ excruciating incision.


Benjamin May 16 separate meOne of my deepest wounds was the feeling of being discarded. I would find people and circumstances that reinforced this dynamic of being an afterthought, being left behind.

When Matt was less than a month away from death, of leaving me behind, I couldn’t let go. He had been on hospice for eight months. His body was so emaciated, his strength was so depleted, his dementia was stealing more of his mind day after day, and I couldn’t let him go.

I loved that child more than life itself. I have no fear of death. He needed to die. It was time, but I simply couldn’t let go.

I had to go into my deepest wound. Was I holding my child to tightly? Had I become a deterrent to his unfolding rather than a servant to his path?

As I entered the depths of this wound that I have carried all my life, the agony of being discarded, an image sat before me. I pictured a rocket being launched from earth. Matt was the capsule and I saw myself as being the rocket booster. As the rocket was leaving earth’s atmosphere, the booster dislodged and the capsule continued out into space. I felt myself falling further from him and back to earth burning, crumbling, dissolving into nothing.

Trace elements of this deep wound had shaped our last days. If I was to fulfill my role as this child’s guide into death and life beyond life I had to reshape my life and be willing to hold my wound, not at bay, but compassionately in love.

I was able to let go. I was able to let go into love, into a greater love that could hold my wound.

Matt died shortly afterwards. He waited till I was ready. He prolonged his life to give life to me. I thought I was holding him and all the while he was holding me.

Benjamin May 16 StillnessI have ventured my Afterloss in the quest of healing the hurt and touching every wound I have carried into loss, and carry in loss. I have sat in great stillness in order to watch the movement of all the trace elements that have collected in this life and have shaped me.

What I hold holds me. What if there was nothing I needed to hold. What if I were to leave no trace? What if I was to let go of everything? What would that look like?

To leave no trace.

I did not burn back into the atmosphere when Matt died. Close. But I am still here. I am still in my search of what trace elements fragment me. I am still on a mission of healing all that was within all that is.

Five years ago I touched the very core of wound itself. It was the most painful moment of my life. I thought Matt’s last breath was the ultimate agony I could ever endure, but I was wrong.

In that moment, when all my wounds surfaced and collected in my consciousness, I was in unbearable pain. I knew peace was somewhere, but in that moment it was nowhere to be found.

I cried out, “How can I find peace?”

The answer came from that great reality deep within. “If you are to know peace, you must let go of everything.”

What I have uncovered in the last five years is that I find peace when I let go of everything into everything. I let of my sorrow into sorrow. I let go of my joy into joy. And most importantly, I let of my love into love.

I let go of all the trace elements of each moment that have brought me to this moment into each moment. It is then. It is there. And it is where I can “leave no trace.”


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