Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Love Never Dies

This morning when I awoke I wrote my gratitude list and forgot to mention something that has had a profound effect on my life -- and for which I'm truly grateful.

The Internet.

I love it. Think about it. Sitting here at my desk in Calgary I am in touch with people around the world. Every day I hear from people who read my blog, or have read my book, who take the time to write and tell me how my words affect them. And every day, I have an opportunity to reach out and touch people, fulfilling my purpose: I am a fearless woman touching hearts and opening minds to set spirits free.

When I first got out of an abusive relationship, the Internet helped me make sense of the nonsense I'd endured. Clicking my way into a chat room of people who had also endured similar circumstances to mine, gave me the courage to heal. In those rooms and sites, I felt less alone, less stupid, less crazy. I felt hope stirring within me as I awoke to the realization that I could uncover myself from beneath the grime and grit of that relationship so that I could one day give back and help others heal.

The reason I am so grateful to the Internet this morning, however, is because of an old friend of my brother's who after 30+ years contacted me. He'd just heard about my brother's death when he searched online for him and found a note on a site for kids who went to the school we went to in Europe. He wrote to tell me, though it's 10 years after the fact, that he was sorry to hear about George's passing.

In his note, he reminded me of what a great guy George was. And it's true. My brother was an awesome human being. When I was in my teens, he was the person I looked up to, the guy I admired the most. Not many men could compare to my brother. Tall, dark and handsome. He had a great sense of humour, and would help anyone in need. My girlfriends all loved him -- which accounts for why so many of them hung out at my house!

My brother is also one of the reasons I work at a homeless shelter. My brother was an alcoholic. He was never homeless, but alcohol stole the brother I loved when he was in his twenties and replaced him with an erratic, unpredictable man who had a vicious temper and the capacity to cut me down in two seconds flat.

Throughout my twenties and thirties I cried a lot about my brother. I couldn't understand where the boy I had grown up with had disappeared. The brother I remembered was caring and funny. He always had a kind word and never lost his temper. But as we both grew into maturity, the brother I knew disappeared into an angry, bitter man who needed three vodka's at lunch to get through the rest of the day and then three more to get through the evening.

I hated my brother for who he had become. I hated alcohol for stealing him away. Yet, I always held onto the hope that one day he would awaken from his alcohol induced state and reclaim his life in sobriety. It never happened. A head on collision between his car and a semi-trailer took my hope away. Both my brother and his wife died in that accident, and with them, all hope of ever getting my brother back went up in the flames that engulfed their vehicle and snuffed out their lives.

And that's why I work at a homeless shelter. We keep hope alive. For the individuals and their families. We provide a safe place for people in need to catch their breath, to find their balance until such time as they can say, 'This isn't working for me anymore. I need to make some changes.' Every day at work, I feel blessed. I can make a difference, and because of my brother, my heart is open in love, without judgement, without regret, without sorrow. I know that because of what we do, a mother, a father, a sister, a brother has a chance of getting their loved one back, some day. There is hope. It's a fragile thread. A single breath that can change the direction of a life forever. But, there is hope. Without it, all is lost.

When I received the email from my brother's friend this morning, I was reminded of the awesome young man my brother was and I was grateful for the reminder that, while my brother died ten years ago, love never dies.

This morning, I am grateful for the Internet. An invisible network of bits and bytes circumnavigating the world in the blink of an eye and carrying messages of hope, love, forgiveness, possibilities to people just like me who start their day with an online ritual of logging on.

I am grateful for this thead of hope that spins its way around the globe on invisible threads connecting hearts and minds where ever we are.

I am grateful for the people who build sites so that others can visit and reconnect with long lost friends and family. For those who create sites for healing, and sharing and connecting so that we can share our hope, strength and experience. And for the courageous men and women who share their stories, so that others feel hopeful they too will find a different story beneath the pain and suffering.

And, I am grateful for this moment when I can sit and cherish the memories of a brother who lost his way in life, but who will never lose his way to my heart.

Today, I remember my brother in love. There's no judgement, no regret, no sorrow in my love. He was an awesome human being who fell hard on the road of life. He taught me many things and most of all, he taught me the awesome truth -- Love never dies.


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