I am in another phase of going deeper into life. There is so much I have had to leave behind. I cannot carry all that was into where I need to go. Some parts of my past have to find peace there. Other parts that have found peace must come with me into the layers that lie before me. What do I leave? What do I take? Why do I hold on to this and let go of that?

Benjamin June 29 Miss them.When Rachel and I were leaving Australia we went through our things. So many things we left behind. But I had carried all my mementos from my life with Lydia, Matt and Bryan across the world and I was coming back to the US with them.

There are some keepsakes that hold on to me as much as I hold on to them. Pictures, paintings, letters…these are not things. These are a testament to a life once lived. These represent the interior furnishing of the life I now live.

At this point, I do not look at them on a regular basis. I go to them when they draw me there. I find myself reaching the end of one layer of loss and on the precipice of the next layer that lies deeper within me. As I leave one layer, I return to the places that have brought me here.

I am not the same person I was when the photograph froze that moment. They are gone. I am gone. We have gone from that moment so long ago. So much is gone.

I hold what’s left. I remember a time so long ago in a time called now. Time stretches across time. Memory pulls me into the past and the past pushes me into the present.

As I study the photo, I study me. Who I was. Who I am. What I have become. It’s been a long journey. I have let go of so many parts of my loss. And in so doing I have found the essence of loss, the epicenter of my sorrow, the parts I will always hold, the parts I can release.

I have released the anger. I have let go of the questioning, “Why this? Why not that?” I have let go of the fear. I have released so many things that used to run my life and shape my loss.

Now what shapes me is the love I have found leaning into layer after layer in loss. One of the things that still shapes me is the longing. I miss them. I will always miss them. I feel their presence, but I miss their touch.

When I was closer to their deaths and further from my life, I would go through intense waves of grief. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move.

As I endured those intense moments of pure pain, I would hold on to one thing. I would hold on to my love for them. No matter how much it hurt. No matter how shattered. No matter how… I just held on to loving them with all my being.

It wasn’t the love that was tearing me to shreds. It was my missing them. I just wanted us to be together.

There was no greater pain than being separate from them, no greater emptiness, no greater sorrow. Separation, in any form, is the greatest pain known to mankind, in my opinion.

I would ride out those intense moments when I couldn’t breathe, speak or move. Another layer would open and more of me spilled into the next layer, formed and reshaped another moment.

Today, I am finding new layers. My lack of breath, words or movement is more metaphoric now, but it is the same dynamic. I gravitate to silence, stillness and solitude. I lie in wait for the unfolding of the next layer. I let go of what cannot go with me and embrace the parts of me that I will need for the journey.

There lives, our life, I will always carry with me. They are apart of me, an inseparable part of who I am and everything I do. I miss who they were and who we were. Yet, as I go from layer to layer less of me is needed as I find more of us.

When I go deeper into life, less of who I was becomes essential. The more I lean into the layers that unfold me, I find the inseparable nature of love. And there is nothing that separates me from loving the ones I love. But to get there I need to leave behind so much of what’s keeps me here, or what draws me to “then.”

Rachel and I moved from Australia over ten years ago. There are still boxes in the garage that haven’t been opened. It reminds me of how much I think I need to carry doesn’t necessarily correlate with how much I really need.

But the boxes that held my memories were open the day we settled back in the States. I need them to guide me in my healing. To taste a memory I need to touch the pieces of my past that have shaped me. They are the North Star in my night.

Today, I let go of everything that is of little importance and I step into the next layer with only the essentials. And my unfolding continues our unfolding. Layer after layer, getting lost in the layers of loss and finding layer after layer of love. In every layer, love is waiting, waiting for me, waiting for us, waiting for us to simply be inseparable, waiting to be love.

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