Dear Clare,

“What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.”

 (Charles Henry Brent)

The first time I read these words was a little over 12 ago. A week after my little brother passed away the father of a friend of his sent us a bouquet of white lilies and a note, with this text. I remember how much peace it gave me in that moment, even if it was momentary, and I have chosen to share these words over and over in the past decade to those that might need to hear them.

Never did I think I would have to be reading them for myself again, and never in such a literal way.

 

Clare,

I haven’t been able to open up pictures of you on my phone, or re read your words on facebook or Instagram. In a way I am running from making it feel more real than it already is. I find myself constantly remember moments we shared. And yes, we only met a little over a year ago but it feels like I’ve known you for way longer. I can’t remember having crazy laugh attacks in bed with anyone other than my high school friends when sleep overs were usual. Some of my 2019 highlights include you in them…from drinking on a boogie board bar in the middle of the ocean to teaching my first course and laughing underwater from you hitting the plate with your head (or answering “your butthole?” to one of my equalization questions), to connecting heart to heart – opening up about our scars, our fears, our goals, and admiring the beautiful breakfast bowls you made for me while we talked about future projects together. In these past months of quarantine and uncertainty, some of my happiest days were when we got to talk – just nice long talks with no specific subject, catching up, always laughing. I was at awe at how resilient you were and how fast you just adapted and created projects, always including a community or social aspect.

When I think about why or how we became such good friends in such a short amount of time I know its because we shared that feeling of “feeling too much” and that is why I know in my heart that what happened was a momentary darkness that came upon you. Just like with my brother, I know in my heart that you did not want to die – not really. I have been there too…feeling how the void from the balcony calls me and stepping away, identifying those dark thoughts that come and sometimes linger too long in my head. I know what it is wanting to make it stop, the feeling… of just having TOO much feelings inside. I wish I could have been there in that precise moment and that you would have texted or called. But, what my brother’s death has taught me is that there is no good in wishing, or thinking about “what if’s” as it will bring no good to me and it definitely won’t bring you back. Still, they are thoughts that re surface and I try my hardest not to attach to them. Instead, I think about all the moments I was lucky enough to share with you.

Walking in Canggu and enjoying a sunset beer, the craziest scooter driving I ever did (because no one messes with my mija!), dancing until we were soaked in sweat, slathering coconut oil on your incredibly lobster red body after a day of snorkeling…and one of the memories I replay in my head the most is of you riding a bike up the narrowest steepest little street in Bali, hair in the wind, and you just rocking that hill…I was in awe (and also terrified of doing it even though I was driving a scooter). You were free, and strong, and determined.  Creative, beautiful, accepting, an amazing listener, and a beautiful soul.

We shared different demons, traumas, bruises, lessons from our past but we decided to face them and live with our heart on our sleeve, always open to new adventures, new people, new lessons – even if that meant getting hurt, we always took that risk. The risk of trusting, of caring, of giving, and loving. Choosing always to see, believe, and be good to others despite the scars in our hearts. Like a friend of mine said (who didn’t know you but had read some things you wrote) we “spoke the same language” and yes, it feels like we did. Which is why it’s so hard knowing you won’t be around anymore. 

I miss you already, I still wish this wasn’t true, that you are just busy on some trip in Hawaii and that’s why we haven’t spoken. I want it so bad not be true but I know it is…but I also know that you are ok. A few days ago, you showed up in my dream. In it, I had received the news that they had found you in Hawaii and then you just showed up! Smiling, light in your eyes and telling you had never been missing and that you were OK. I woke up -surprisingly- not in tears, but with calm and certainty in my heart…knowing that you are doing good, that you are still smiling and laughing and in peace. I’m sure my brother is there with you somewhere, and that you will be the best dive buddies in heaven. I know I will feel you both around me in every dive, that if I look deep into the blue you will be looking back, hugging me with all the oceans strength, surrounding me with your love.

Clare bear, my mija, thank you for sharing so many wonderful moments with me, thank you for the lessons you have given me in life and now in death. You are loved and missed so, so, much by so many people all over the world. It is hard for me to finish this letter, to put a period at the end of it. So, I won’t finish it…because there is no end to love