Flying to Atlanta today, I found myself writing a poem about my cousin Josh. He died tragically, far too young, in a climbing accident in Kananaskis country. Seventeen years later, I found myself compelled to remember, to quietly grieve on an airplane and write the following poem. Oddly, as I have turned fifty, I now find myself pursuing many of the things that he loved and that we shared together, not as often as I would have liked. I have taken up mountain climbing and kayaking and now share those pursuits with my son. While I was devastated by his death, I don’t think I actually grieved his loss. It is so odd that this should begin, so many years later, but perhaps it is the beginning of many of these occurrences. As I said in my last post, I am mostly a man unaccustomed to grief. Not unaccustomed to loss by any means, but for the most part of my life, too shut off from my own emotions to experience them in a healthy way. Perhaps you can teach old dogs new tricks.
A long buried need for shared adventure, danger, beauty, clinging to rock, to dreams, even a glimpse of the divine.
But how, gone now, so many years, decades even, your laugh echos within the caverns of my mind, wispy remembrances, breeze through lava tubes in the desert.
A new partner, unexpected, but in so many ways, like you. Glint in his eyes, passion in his bones, craving life, drinking it in, throttle open wide.
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. Like ours, so many sunsets past, I hold it all loosely, open hands, striving not to grasp, lest he too trickles through my fingers, smooth grains falling back upon the beach, tide lapping it back into the deep.
Buried grief, now rising, pushing up, unwanted and grateful together. Tears, seventeen years in the making stream down hot cheeks, I remember your smile, your zest, sun dogs for a halo.
What might have been, could have been. Cousin, son, husband, brother, friend, uncle to so many left wanting.
Another crag, another crack, one more crux, hands reach upwards, feet searching for solid holds.