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Death, and my WTF look.

My brother Robert lived. The breath you just took in likely contains molecules of the air that he once breathed out. The same is true at an energetic level. Whatever emotions he experienced remain, the world changed because of it.

Christmas is one of the few joyful times that I can remember in my family of origin. It embodied my notion of ritual and celebration—members working together to bring wonder to the whole, a time when extended family came together in love.

Last Christmas was not that.

I did not succeed in creating the family of my imagination. A better home than the one I came from. Where Christmas wasn’t the exception, but an everyday norm. A place where each member thrives. Becomes their best selves, because of the solid foundation provided to spring into the world from. A place where the most important values blossom. Love. Loyalty. Dependability. Belonging.

Laughter. Security. And the powerhouse—when one person is down—the wagons are circled until they’re up again.

It’s an idealistic view. Childish, perhaps.

My family got together last Christmas, but the only ones present were the dead. The highlight of my day was visiting their graves. I decorated the shared headstone with garlands of plant matter found on the ground nearby. One-by-one, Funk and I stood above them and threw flowers, thanking each for the gifts they’d brought into my world.

Something was missing.

My prayers went to 3 people when I thought sure 4 were gone. That’s when it hit me. Robert didn’t have anything to show that he’d been here. And then I remembered why. One brother, who is still breathing, kept his ashes from me. It’s the same brother who tried having me arrested for being at my mother’s house the day after her funeral.

That brother and I will have a reckoning, but it’ll likely come on the other side.

Soon, though, everyone will know that Robert existed. A plaque is on the way. Something to give his spirit the recognition he deserves. It’ll sit beside my father, mother and sister—Eww! I’m SO sorry Rob! —still, everyone needs a place to be physically honored after they depart this world.

Thank you, Robert, for being a good brother. For repairing our relationship before you exited. For helping me hear what you needed of me. I love you, with everything that is good in me, as lacking as it might be.

A weird thought presented a few weeks ago.

All the bones of all the people who ever lived are still here. We walk atop them every day. Other countries honor their dead, and because they do, the dead offer them assistance when they need it.

Here’s to you if you honor your ancestors. The practice seems long forgotten in America. Is it any wonder our ancestors have forgotten us?