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  • It appeared instantly and Margaret's brow furrowed. "Huh," was all she said as she turned her laptop towards me. I immediately saw a thin red line that stretched beyond the screen. Margaret proceeded to explain the basic elements of my astrology chart.

    It was a slow morning and coffee talk languidly segued from tangent to tangent. It was a welcomed change after several hectic months. A chance to connect with a new friend, hanging in a warm, over stuffed chair, rapt attention paid to the spiraling steam from my cup and bubbly conversation. It was all in good fun... "Let me do your astro chart. It's a hobby of mine." Then that infinite line.

    "What is that?" I asked. She was obviously leaving it for last and I had to know. It was so hard to ignore. I don't remember the name she gave it. All I remember is how she explained it— "the wound that will not heal." A starting point without an end right on the date of my brother's death.

    And there it was, graphically simplified. The dividing line between who I was and the person that has evolved around that hollow pain. A red scar that cuts across everything, forever. At first, seeing it that way felt both trivial and ominous. But, then it became liberating.

    Liberating because I did not have to apologize for the pain. Or hide it. Or feel ashamed. Its rawness makes people uncomfortable in a world of discomfort smoothed over by chemical solutions. But, it will not be tamed that way and the truth is, it has never healed. Why should it? It is a part of me. It always lies underneath and sears to the surface at times, even now.

    And why not? My brother was my best friend, my partner in crime, my confidante and, at times, my parent. We shared a traumatic childhood and we were fiercely loyal to each other. The morning he died, I could not face a world without him. Twenty years later and I am still learning how.
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