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Lions Roar : March 2013
asked me another large question. “What is suicide?” He deftly pulled my private fear out of the thin, spirit-filled air. “How does someone kill themselves?” I answered the question calmly, honestly; not too much detail, just enough. How much is just enough? I know too well what my son will learn later, hope- fully from a distance, from other people’s lives, from stories and movies, that the spirit can feel so broken that fixing it seems like an impossibility, or a pointless labor best abandoned. How do you fix a broken spirit? So. I sat down to investigate my broth- er’s absence by breathing into it for a while. I am not by nature a superstitious person. At the same time, I know there are many things I will never understand, or will never understand completely. And I like that. It keeps me humble and curi- ous about the world. I sat, I breathed. I am an emergency meditator. I sat, I breathed. I allowed the possibilities in with the breath. I breathed them out again. I observed. I did not cry. I just fidgeted. My hip was sore. Then my knee. Old wounds. By the time I stood up to continue my workday, I was fairly certain my brother was not dead. I say “fairly certain” because it is a mistake, in these situations, to insist that you are right, that you know. I surely did not know. But I felt that he was alive, and fine. And that he had his own reasons for his long silence. LAST WEEK THE PHONE RANG. It was an automated operator with her spiel: “This telephone call is from a correctional facility. All conversations will be recorded and monitored and subject to... blah- blah-blah.” It’s weird to be so happy when the prison rings, but I was already grin- ning. The dour, disembodied voice of the operator seemed melodic, truly, as though she were singing a lovely song a cappella: Will you accept this call? I wondered: What do I feel right now? I feel my spirit. And I feel my brother’s spirit. Yes. Yes, I said, I accept this call. I will always accept this call. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2013 76