Day before yesterday I experienced the rose ceremony in honor of Bryan. His short life did not carry the many years of memories that Lydia’s and Matt’s do, but there are always enough memories for each petal.

I went to a creek that flows into Lake Tahoe. The winter frost has the creek living in two worlds just like me. Ice has formed on the outer edges and the boulders, but the cold flowing water still makes it to the lake underneath the frozen surface.

The first memory I kissed and placed on the white petal was the thank you to Bryan for staying close to his us right after he died. I thanked him for showing me that space between life and death. Bryan was not only the first family member to die, he was also the first body I held in death. He was my first guide into the dance of spirit and Spirit.

This little ancient one tenderly chose to sit next to me as I held a body that was no longer my child. He was the first one to take me to that part of me that goes with the one I love and to the part of them stays with me. Bryan waited next to me until he was sure the reintegration process had begun. Bryan wanted to make sure Lydia and I were okay. Bryan and I were not on this plane of existence when I kissed his empty body for the last time.

I kissed this first petal and dropped it into the unfrozen part of the creek. As in every rose ceremony I watched the travels of each memory as the waters took her away from me. This, too, carries just as much weight as the kiss itself. This petal of gratitude got stuck between the ice and flowing river. All through the rest of the kisses and memories, this particular petal was suspended in the between. Even after I had kissed the stem and watched it meander down the creek towards the lake, the rushing water was pounding this one petal as she was being pressed against the ice.

The symbolism did not go unnoticed. The petal where the finite and Infinite meet was caught between two forms of the same substance, just as I am perpetually wedged between the Before and the Afterloss.

I stopped talking about Lydia, Matt and Bryan to my friends a long time ago. They have never met them. They didn’t know me in that world of Before. I have integrated my worlds to the point where my Afterloss is unintentionally camouflaged in my daily life. It’s the invisible world that the outside world rarely detects. But everyday I navigate between them. A song takes me into the Afterloss as I’m having coffee with a friend. I am both there with him and off at a playground swinging my child. I see the Golden Gate Bridge on a TV commercial break during a Giants game and I’m hoping the Giants score in the next inning while I am kissing Lydia next to the southern pylon on our last night in San Francisco.

I’m living between flowing water and ice. Sometimes the flowing water is the world of the Afterloss, sometimes it’s the ice. The surface world that looks a lot like the world of Before is oftentimes frozen and I can’t move with the traffic of life, sometimes it is a beautiful fluidity that takes me effortless from one moment to the next.

I find it easier to sit unconditionally in my world of the Afterloss. It is more difficult to negotiate the surface world without thinking I need to keep up, keep pace with the world that is moving at a more accelerated speed. I sometimes think I won’t be understood or be found out and someone will take note and think there is something wrong with me. I can judge me in my sorrow far more than anyone else ever could.

I am slowly learning not to judge either state by the other’s standards. I do not try to fit one world into the other. I’ve often said to Rachel, “I don’t think I fit in this world.” I didn’t understand fully what that meant. All I knew was that I sometimes have this feeling of being in a foreign land where people live daily lives, while in my Afterloss there is nothing daily about it. I feel lost and I have to get real still to get my bearings again and focus. I pause and wait till I can access what world I’m dealing with and where exactly am I.

The first petal still remained caught between water and ice as my ceremony ended. I had no need to reach down into the creek to dislodge her. Her journey would change sooner or later. I left her as she left me with a reminder that this is just a part of life – the part between life and death, between Before and After…between the finite and the Infinite. After I kissed all the petals for Bryan, Bryan returned my kiss. Gratefully, this, too, is a part of life.

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