With 40 years of life, I have experienced innumerable pivotal moments which have changed my course dramatically. Moments of joy and pain both wonderfully welcome and also wholeheartedly unwelcome all laced together to form a lifetime. And with each pivotal experience, I am forever changed.
Recently, I have suffered loss on a level more personal than I'd previously known. This winter in particular, has taken its toll and many of us in this Church have been left in its wake. December and March robbed the world of two extremely bright and brilliant individuals. In a moment, I was changed and my innermost circle was missing two very important members. They both lost their lives unexpectedly, leaving their families and friends swimming in an ocean of unanswered questions, and what if's. Once again, I am changed.
The first death took my friend Joseph Anderson following 4 years of depression and bad choices which I tried desperately to help him through. His sudden loss left me in a depression, feeling as though I needed to hide my pain and especially my tears from the people closest to me as to not add to their suffering. I ached and grieved for the most part in silence, alone.
The second death came after a week of panic and action including sharing hundreds of flyers to aid in the search of a dear friends missing brother. Yet, something was different this time. I was not alone. We were all in this together. Some of us searching, driving up and down highways, checking embankments for his car praying to find him alive while others spent countless hours spreading the word on social media, calling hospitals, jails and any one else we thought might know something. In the end, our dear friend, our brother, was finally located by divers searching the Sacramento river.
We got the tragic news as we were all on our way to attend a vigil at the river near where his car had been located. We were gathering there to raise awareness of the situation. Over a hundred people came together to mourn the loss of my dear friend Kalan's 28 year old brother Broughty Cole.
I showed up alone. I stood near a tree unwilling to burden anyone with my sadness. I felt both deaths heavy on my shoulders. I planned to hide along the periphery of the group and slink away on my own but that did not, that could not happen in this circle. Before I even realized what was happening I found myself getting to know Broughty's family members and friends that I hadn't met before. It felt natural to aid in helping his family make decisions and even eventually providing transportation so they could all finally share a meal together after so many days of searching and worrying. This was a sad day indeed but the outpouring of love at such a moment of intense grieving changed me. And I am changed. We all gained something magical in the midst of so much loss. A fire was ignited inside me. I felt a calling which has knocked before but I had found excuse after excuse to avoid answering out of a fear of failure and even fear of success.
That calling is to become a conduit of connection. A community builder. It is difficult to say exactly where all this new found energy and focus originated but I would like to believe that when Broughty's beautiful soul lefts it's temporary home it passed through all of us leaving behind a clarity, an awakening that will not be ignored. We are bound together in grief yet also united with one another in love and the connection of a tribe. In the month that has past since that moment at the river I have begun on my path to building a solid community, a world within a world. One part of that was completing the path to membership and becoming an officially recognized Unitarian Universalist. The rest of the path is still presenting itself in the form of hosting several relationship strengthening groups including a poetry and prose forum for which I am hosting public open mic Spoken Word events as well as a Lucid Dreaming support group and a health and fitness group currently sponsoring several exercise commitment challenges. I am changed. I am awakened. There is more I would love to share with you all about this and many other things as well and I am sure I will in time for I am a part of this tribe now, and together we are changed.