We saw the Aurora Borealis for the second time on the night of Feb. 18. We watched into the early morning of my late twin brothers’ birthday, on Feb. 19, 2014. Photo courtesy of Kate Bade Photography.
In honor of Thomas and Lawrence Bunsey
1998 — 2011
For most people, today is just like any other Wednesday. But I’m not most people.
At the drop of a solar wind dial, I jumped off the couch last night, bundled up with my husband, and hopped in the car to chase the Northern Lights. We found a quiet snow-covered lane somewhere north of Chisago Lakes, with a field on one side and a lake on the other.
Just in time for magnetic midnight, we settled in for a wintry light show.
Lifting our spirits
The moment we arrived on this country road, we were greeted by constellations of stars, a bright mottled moon, and the Northern Lights. Sources said the Aurora had been glowing for hours, launching into the sky with an array of colors and columns. I knew it to be true, not just from the numbers — which ebb and flow on the whims of the earth’s magnetism — but also in my heart.
February 19, 2014, marked what would have been my twin brothers’ 16th birthday, and I had a feeling the early hours would give us a night to remember.
As warm as ever, I could feel my love for my late twin brothers bubbling over. I focused my thoughts on our most cherished memories, remembering their hugs, their laughs and their adventurous spirit. In that moment, I could also feel my twin brothers’ love for me.
Eskimo folklore claims that the Northern Lights are the spirits of lost children, returning to the earth to be present with their families. I love this myth, and I admire it.
To stand beneath the Northern Lights is nothing short of inspiring. To the eyes, the sight is hard to believe, as you watch air particles take on color while they morph and expand in thin air. To the other senses, though, there is something that just can’t be put into words.
It is a feeling.
I understand why the Eskimos attributed this indescribable sensation to the children who had gone before them. By passing on the legend of their children’s presence, they also allowed themselves to be present with their love for the little ones. It’s a beautiful tradition.
And after all, what are we without love?
As deep as our love
There is something I have been meditating on for the last year.
Our grief is only as deep as our love.
It sounds simple, but the idea is profound. Sometimes, grief steals everything from a person — from basic daily functions like appetite, sleep, or memory, to cultivated personality traits, like professional acumen, unwavering patience, or optimism.
As ugly as grief may be, it becomes something beautiful when we measure it with love.
The love that we feel for the person we lost, no matter how fiercely it courses through our hearts, becomes the extent to which we think we can’t live without them. It sounds miserable on the surface, but where these emotions originate matters most. They are born out of love.
When that love is taken away from us, we tend to crack. Our cares melt away, and grief rears its ugly head. Outwardly, it may look like we are throwing everything away or giving up. But deep down, we are loving feverishly. We are loving those we have lost hard enough to let them go, and we are learning how to live again. We are learning how to live without them.
When I first tackled another year without my twin brothers, I felt frustrated and alarmed that I was still hurting so deeply. Only now, I want to embrace it. The fact that I am so saddened by such a sudden loss, is directly correlated to the notion that I loved such wonderful people so much.
There is beauty in that. How amazing is it that we could love someone so deeply that it might stay with us throughout our lives? Even after they are gone?
It is a testament to the strength of the human heart.
For more of my writing, visit my blog. The original post was published there on February 19, 2014.
Columns of Light
Gathering on the Great Lakes