Letters Never Sent ~ for JR My dear ones, I miss you. Earlier today I walked to "Old Towns." I stopped to pick berries along the way. The salmonberries, sweet and satisfying, brought me to memories from my past and an appreciation for youth. I paused many times to savour the sights and sounds of everything around me. A float plane in the distance heading south. An outboard motor gearing down to settle its wake before docking. Green, everywhere. A breeze came up from the ocean, salty and fresh, and danced through the alder trees to find my tears. My dear ones, I miss you again. Today I left the cabin and walked to the abandoned airstrip. More salmonberries, some so large the little hairs tickled my tongue, and I was reminded of bath times and baby feet, wee wee wee, all the way home. I loved the way you both shrieked in delight as your dad and I would scoop you up in a towel and blow raspberries on your cheeks. I look forward to when you can taste these berries––walk in this place where I became another version of me. It's hard leaving you so young to come to this funeral, but it's important––my being here. You will learn these things, and you will be present for loved ones and you will be at their side in times of need. You too will share laughter and tears and loss. I wish you knew my brother. I wish we'd lived closer. I wish I visited him more. Then, the phone call. I will honour his memory and pass on what he taught me. You'll both work hard and be generous. You'll demonstrate how to live with love. You'll be good to yourselves and others. I see you doing it already in the closeness you share with your grandparents and cousins, the gentle care you take with the plants and animals around you. You carry yourselves well. My dear ones, Today I walked the gravel road to the airstrip and found friendship with the ravens again. The sky felt bigger somehow and the eagles seemed to touch the heavens. I painted my pain with imagined brush strokes across the blue forever. I prayed for assistance from my ancestors and shouted out everything on my heart. Though the utter shock of death was present in me, I felt it soften. Dear ones, I want you to know how good it felt when I used to walk these dusty roads. Sometimes he and I walked them together. I would listen to his stories about the real meaning of things and he would speak about the importance of the oneness of humankind. He was otherworldly. He was so wise, back then. Back then when we were both teenagers, back then when the wolves howled through the island passes. Their chorus lit up the night as the stars twinkled back in appreciation. Dear ones, I am my most me here. This place, with all its memories, my coming of age, the past. It is magical. But, I am also, my most me, there, with you. What we share is magic. Tomorrow will be a tough day my loves. I will imagine you both at my side, your special hearts keeping rhythm with mine, as I grieve a brother. I will find my way through this and back again, to you. I will savour the tastes and smells, I will listen and watch. I will say goodbye to that which must be left behind. My dear ones, Soon, we will come here as a family. I will show you the beauty of my past. Walk the places I walked. You will get to know the me that grew up here. The me that howled with my brother and sang to the stars. You will taste the sweetness of salmonberries and if you're lucky, some huckleberries too. You will know sweet and tart. Love and loss. And in your own lives, my wish is that you will find your most YOU places too. You will journey alongside specials souls. You will listen. You will learn. My dear ones, Cherish each other. The time we have here is so very precious.