I look for signs now that my brother is dead. In the ladybug that flew onto my windowsill every day at the same time for a week. In the next song that comes on my playlist: If you’re listening, Kyle, I think into the universe, Show me with this next song. Today, I lost my headphones. Maybe Kyle took them to show me that he’s here. I was disappointed when I found them in a forgotten coat.
Kyle would have laughed at me. Or maybe, he wouldn’t have. He, too, knew the soul-clutching desperation it takes to scream out into the abyss and beg it to answer. His relationship with spirituality shifted often. He was a fierce atheist at some points in his life, almost manically interested in scientific explanations for the universe and everything in it. Other times, he prayed every day, acknowledging that part of prayer was earnest self-reflection, but also grasping for something outside of himself.
Both Kyle and I always saw ourselves as pieces of a whole, specks in a vast interconnected web of humanity. We agreed that even if there is nothing outside of the chain of humanity, the wholeness, the web itself—that is something holy. That is a force worth praying to. That understanding of God was good enough for me until Kyle died. Now, of course, he does not exist within the living strings of pipelines I used to think encompassed everything. Now, I need there to be something more.
When we were little, Kyle and I had a game. One of us, usually him, would say, “You don’t know anything. Tell me something you think you know.”
“I know your shirt is orange.”
“Okay, who even knows what orange is? Maybe what you see as orange, everyone in the world sees uniquely, in a completely different way that looks nothing like the orange you see. There’s no way of measuring that we’re all seeing the same thing.”
“I know you’re sitting at this table with me.”
“Maybe I’m just a figment of your imagination right now, and you’re really having this conversation with yourself. You can’t be 100% sure that I’m not. Maybe you’re not even in this universe right now, or you’re having infinite other conversations in infinite other universes.”
He would send my head spinning in circles, challenging everything I had never thought to wonder about.
You don’t know anything. Sometimes, this is enough to comfort me. Other days, it is not.
Twice, I have sat under the open sky, thought of Kyle, and felt energy pour into my head. The first time, it felt like someone was holding my head gently; the second time I felt tingling all over the top of my head. I knew it was him—even more than I know that we are all looking at the same color orange. I feel him in a way that nothing can explain.
For the rest of my earthly life, Kyle will be my god. Not like I’m worshipping him or anything, just in the sense that he will be my connection to spirituality, to a belief in something beyond humanity. I’ll never stop looking for signs, so I will never stop finding them. I will never stop believing in the strength of our connection, so it will never be broken. Our love is a force worth praying to.