Through the Winter Solstice Lightby Jacquelyn Jackson on Dec. 23, 2011, under Uncategorized
Two days before Christmas and we have not a single gift beneath the Christmas tree which itself is 8-feet tall with multi-colored lights and ornaments that span forty years worth of living. Just two days ago, as the light of the Winter Solstice began its shift from darkness to light, my beloved brother Don slipped through the shifting rays.
This year has thrust upon me too many humbling lessons of grief. Split seconds when time and light shift and shimmer and take away the ones we love. On January 8, it was a storm of bullets that I watched spew from a small gun that took away Gabe, that utterly transformed Gabrielle and that threw Pam and Ron to the sidewalk sparing their lives but profoundly altering their sense of safety and sanity.
Nine days ago, I was sitting in our kitchen, the first day of nearly three weeks off – quiet time needed desperately to do a bit more healing from what I witnessed last January. My brother’s partner Cynthia called from Austin to ask me our family history of seizures and cancer. My brother Don, the strong, healthy, athletic one, the songwriter, chiropractor and father of three wonderful children – had collapsed in his office and was in ICU.
This one call produced a frenzy of more calls, plane reservations, car rentals as all the rest of us raced to Austin. We are and have been forever the Jackson Five – oldest brother Dan, then me, then Don and his twin David and Gayle. I understand the power of five, know the dynamics of five-way interaction – and Don was the one who would outlive us all. The one I always thought if anything ever happened to my husband, I could move to Austin and live close to him.
Don was the one with the roaring sense of humor, who always called me Jack and who could nudge my shoulder when I tended to get too intense and gentle me right out of it.
He was taken out not by a single speeding bullet but by a brain cancer so aggressive that he was gone in seven short days. He went from jogging last Monday to dead on Tuesday.
And so I sit here, no presents under the tree, having no idea how we will survive as the Jackson Four, wondering what it is I am supposed to learn from this year of grief and the unexpected. I have no answers, I have no bitterness, I have deep, deep pain that is now a part of my being and the fierce desire to make good of all this – to more deeply appreciate the sound of our beagle chewing his breakfast and lapping up his water, to keep my own heart – so altered by all that has gone down this year – open to possibility, love and trust. That, I believe, will be a gift that can’t be wrapped but is there for the taking.