September 2000, we were in Kennebunkport for a week away as a couple after a very busy and successful time in my small business. Life was good, very good. Our kids were safe at home in the care of their grandmother.
It was a blustery cool day as we walked the shore and listened to the surf.
I had a new high end (for the time) digital camera, and was snapping pictures. Many great shots, then suddenly every picture I snapped appeared strangely warped, fuzzy, out of focus. I figured some sort of mechanical or optical failure, so after more than twenty bad pictures, I stopped snapping pictures and we headed back to our hotel for lunch. As we arrived at the hotel, there was a message for me to urgently call my sister-in-law three time zones away in western Canada.
The call brought news that my brother Mike had hung himself that morning while she drove their two children to school. Mile was a jovial, smart, driven, successful person, the guy who always had a big smile at family gatherings, who was always talking of the future he aspired to for himself and his family. No prior history of mental illness, no past attempts, no warning signs or calls for help.
The toughest series of phone calls came next. Calling our mother, father, brother, and sister with the news and tasking them with spreading the news to other relatives. Then hurried packing and an eight hour drive to our home, to our children to break the news in person before I left the next morning to see my parents in person.
By some strange serendipity, Kennebunkport was where Mike and his bride had honeymooned. Our drive home took us past many waypoints in Mikes life, places he went to school, places we had sailed together, places we had skied together, places important to our family life together.
Death triggers an exhausting flurry of social, travel, financial and bureaucratic activity. So, it was weeks later when I decided to send the blurry digital camera back for repair. I took it out and snapped a few pictures and it worked perfectly, shot after shot. In the many years I used it afterwards, every shot was great, the warped blurry images never returned in many thousands of pictures.
Only then did I connect that the time when the camera had failed was almost exactly the time that Mike had killed himself. When I thought of that, I wrote it off as coincidence. I am a technician, I am male, I am a science based person, I was not by any stretch what one could call spiritual. At that time, I had no explanation for a self-healing camera.
The coming years would change my thinking about life and love, and open understanding that would explain the phenomena I had observed with the pictures I took at the time my brother killed himself, at the time was his widow was reaching out to me for my assistance.
Two plus decades later, I am convinced that the most powerful unseen and therefore unexplained force or energy in our universe is this thing we humans call love. This book is a vulnerable sharing of my awakening and my explorations and explanations for what I have observed and felt through grief through several untimely and unexpected losses of the coming years.
Grief became my teacher, grief became my guide, grief showed me my soul completely emptied and then again overfilled. I wrote a journal, I have a near photographic memory, I remember it all and with time I could begin to put some of the pieces of what love is and what love does.
Grief is now a beautiful part of me, not just a collection of wounds and scars, but a beautiful garden that I have built in my soul for all those that I have loved and lost. A garden where I can escape the physical world and peacefully understand that love continues long past our death, perhaps for an eternity in the souls of those who have loved us and their descendants.