Dance In The Flames



One mid-afternoon, I took myself on another walk over crunchy snow, along crooked trails. My shadow followed me until I turned and waved goodbye to the person I used to be before I had to say goodbye to my brother. Before I knelt, bare knees on hard rocks and watched his ashes blow from a sack and float atop the Indian Ocean, drifting away from me under the heat and brightness of the Balinese sun.


My shadow waved back as I turned away from her and wondered how much was left of me now? Who would take her place? Who will emerge as Grief sinks into cells and bone, seeping into the muscles of my beating heart. I tried to outrun the HERE and NOW,  the place we’re supposed to be, because it’s the only space and time that’s real. Don’t look ahead, don’t look behind. Keep the past where it belongs.



On this day, I kicked the moment, and Grief aside as I stepped with intention and will into the past. That place where my brother still lived and laughed and cried with me.



That place where his smile could light up a midnight sky and his hug could melt a glacier.

That place where I watched him soar across the soccer field, the checkered ball an extension of his foot. That place when he was nineteen, sitting upright in a salon chair, inhaling a fat breath as I laid a hand on his shoulder, and said, “It will be okay.”

The hairdresser opened the two silver blades of the scissors, snipped his dreadlocks as he leaned into me and sobbed, while they piled into a gnarly heap on the floor. A sacrifice he’d made as a birthday gift to our mother.






That place where he shared his passion for Spas and travels to Egypt, Hong Kong, and Thailand.  A time when his voice would rise as he expressed his love for his wife, and told me stories about my niece, his 3-1/2-year-old daughter, Sara, who loved her pink guitar.




There, in the past, I could thank him for expanding my life in the most unexpected ways. “Without you,” I’d say, “I never would have felt the Indian ocean on my skin or run breathless into those waves. I never would have eaten sticky rice and grilled fresh fish under a smoke-filled sky on the Balinese beach. I never would have squinted at the blinking lights and neon signs during the Night Market in Hong Kong. And I never would have known how one small child, her arms around my neck, could bring sparks of joy after you left.”

Back there in those places that were so far behind me, I could read his email messages and smile at how he measured time before we’d see each other again through “sleeps.” Three days before his last trip back in June, he wrote, “3 more sleeps, sis.” The next day, “Two more sleeps, sis,” until there was only one more “sleep” before I’d see him again.

I asked him on this day when I slipped back into places far from the present moment, “How many more sleeps do I have now before I’ll see you again?”

“No more sleeps, sis,”  I heard him say. “I’m with you now.”

“You taught me so much,” I said, feeling blisters rise on my heart as if it had been burned. I continued to walk through my memories until the sun inched its way below the tree line and thought about what I’ve learned from my brother and am learning still.

Grief runs as deep as love. We must grow down to grow up. We can’t know one without the other. We cannot feel one without the other. They are intertwined like the reeds at the bottom of the Indian Ocean where my brother floated away. If we do not open our hearts to love, true, real, intimate love, how can we know the depth of loss? How can we celebrate life if we do not have the courage to live it fully—to dance in the flames rather than skip around the fire where it’s safe? No chance of getting burned, and no chance to feel the heat of passion for life.

If we’ve lived long enough, we know what it means to fear love, to fear loss, to fear life itself, and ultimately to fear the bone-crumbling ache of death. We know what it feels like to get burned. We make a choice to either jump back into the fire or protect ourselves from the flames.




My brother chose to dance in the flames until he became one, lighting up this world with the spark and heat of his passionate heart. Everything he did, he did with his whole being, whether it was giving his love and compassion to others, mourning over a loss or regret, or celebrating the blessings in his life.



He wrapped his arms around LIFE and squeezed the eeek out of it, wrung it out dry and soaked it all over again.  He taught me that money was meant to be spent. Life was meant to be lived, and we all deserve a second chance. Make every day matter…even if that means shutting your phone off, getting on the floor and having a tea party with your daughter, massaging gum out of your son’s hair, or making love when you have a deadline.

My brother wrote, “For anything new to begin, something has to end……this is the journey of life….and I love every minute of it!”

What “new” will begin, my brother, now that your life has ended? What miracles will occur in the space you’ve left behind? I will watch for them. I will wait for them. I will shine my light on the countless blessing you’ve left behind,  not on the dark grief of your absence. I will accept the lessons you’ve taught me. I will dance with you in the flames. And I will invite others to join us there, too.

43 thoughts on “Dance In The Flames

  1. Oh oui, Susan, I join both of you! Ton message est bouleversant.
    So much infinite and unconditional love for life through each and every experience. Through you I meet and love your brother. Much much love dear Susan!

    1. Marie,
      thank you so much for your love! I’m so sorry I missed your exhibition…that was my Anniversary weekend and ironically, the weekend Rocky passed away. Your paintings are so beautiful…and I WILL own one soon!! I hope the experience was magical for you, Marie.
      All my love,

      1. Yes dear Susan, the experience was magical and you, Julie, Peter and other beautiful souls gave it the first impulse. I am forever grateful for the words you wrote to me while I was starting my new serie, words of encouragement that gave me the strength to keep on. I am leaving in a few days for Brazil and will stay there in the forest for two months. New paintings to come. Please keep on writing, your words are powerful and brilliant your writing! Love xox

      2. Marie,
        This comments makes me want to leap up with joy…BRAZIL…following the voice and calling of your soul. I can’t wait to see what pure magic you’ll create. I promise to keep writing if you promise to keep painting! Keep in touch with us along this beautiful journey of yours.
        ALL MY LOVE!

  2. I will dance with you too!

    Susan Casey, you are a brilliant writer. You encase my heart with every word and allow new blood flow into every vessel. You make me think. You challenge me. You enlighten me.

    Thank you for sharing your heart, your soul, and your artistry.


    1. Julie…you make me cry…thank you…this means so much coming from you…a gifted, brilliant writer and photographer…an evolved and loving spirit. I am so looking forward to the day that you can come spend time in my home. Thank you for your love and support. I am so grateful every day of my life that I signed up for Neale’s course. All my love and eternal gratitude, Susan ps. I will also dance with you.

  3. So beautiful, Susan. I’m convinced people don’t die. You’ll find his little gifts in unexpected ways. I promise. I’m here, dear friend … need anything? Just ask. love love love Berry

    1. Thank you, Berry…no we never die…this I know….but how I miss his physical form. I love you and know you are here for me. I, too, am here for you. All my love!

  4. Perfectly reflective and beautifully expressed. Every leaf has two sides….every half has a whole…..grief and love are two sides of life… cannot survive or be appreciated without knowing the other. Yin and Yang. 🙂

    1. Eve…yes…one cannot survive or be appreciated without knowing the other…” I love this and you! thank you for always sharing your own beautiful words, comments and insights…xoxoxx LOVE!

  5. I am reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s words, on Love…

    “… But if in your fear you would seek only Love’s peace and Love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of Love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears….”

    Dance well within the flames, for there is no such fear within you…

    1. George, first you send me Anita’s recording, not knowing how much I love her book and now you send me a quote from one my favorite writers of all time! We are kindred spirits. This particular quote is so powerful and poignant. Thank you, George. Thank you…all my love and gratitude, susan

  6. Hi Susan, Chris Turner here, your old neighbor. So sorry for your loss, I cannot imagine
    I did not know of Rocky’s death till the Sunday paper. i stopped in to see your parents, honestly have not stopped in to much 😦
    I do not blog, do not know how but your dad has sent me 2 of your blogs, you write sooooo well
    Know of the memorial in May in Portland
    Do take care 🙂 Chris, George also

    1. Chris, thank you for reading. More importantly, thank you for stopping in to see my parents…it’s kind and loving and I truly appreciate you taking the time to support them.
      All my love,

  7. You are so courageous for sharing your journey with all of us and I am proud to call you my friend. You amaze me and inspire me. And yes, I will join you in the flames my dear friend. May it burn away our fears so we can embrace the joys of the journey.

    1. Yvon,
      “May it burn away our fears so we can embrace the joys of the journey.” So beautiful, Yvon. You are the courageous one and I am proud to call you my friend. I love you…thanks for you continual encouragement. xoxo

  8. As always, such beautiful words. As I sit here this morning, choking on my own fears and reduced to tears, I am called back to what it means to LIVE, courtesy of your brother. He is a true hero and inspiration in my book, as are you, my dear buddy. Thank you for sharing such a raw and perfectly sublime account of what it looks like to be FREE.

    1. Alissia,
      We all know what it feels like to choke on our own fears…ALL of us…and sometimes taking the kind of risks you have truly does feel like free-falling off a cliff. You will GROW those wings on the way down and you WILL dance in flames…you already are and soon you will know it. I believe in you. I know the light is just up ahead and you’ll tip your chin and feel it’s warmth. All my love to you my sweet friend…I’m cheering you on…hear my chant! xo

  9. So lovely Susan! What a perfect image – no more sleeps, no more separation – he’s with you now & forever.

    1. Tasha,
      Thank you…so much love to you for all your love and support…no more sleeps…xo
      You have been a guiding light for me and I will forever be grateful.

    1. Little Miss Wordy:-) Love the name..thank you for your comment. I’ve been trying to leave messages on your last four posts…and I write, I sign in and they never post…I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…but I LOVE your blog…and I wish the same for you with everything you said to me…I know you, too, have had a DEEP loss…my love and blessings to you. If you signed up to get my messages and read this, please let me know why my comments aren’t going through. My love to you as you move through this painful time in your own life. And PLEASE keep writing! xo

      1. Thank you for not giving up on my blog! I have no idea why comments aren’t showing up from you, but if you keep having trouble just message me directly as I love to hear from readers. Your story regarding the loss of your brother hit very close to home for me although my brother is still with me. I have experienced loss in the past and my heart hurts for you as you continue to heal. I look forward to following you on your journey to a happier, less painful place. Hugs!

      2. Give up on your blog? NEVER…I LOVE it! You are a beautiful, talented writer and your posts are insightful and thought provoking… and you have fresh voice!
        And thank you for reading mine…I’m humbled.
        With much gratitude,

  10. Sue, This is some amazing writing. Can’t tell you how much your words have moved me. It is a very hard thing to lose a family member… I lost two very dear to me in my younger days….As I depart for the Indian Ocean next week, I will be thinking of you, Rocky and all your loved ones.

    1. Pat…I think you left this comment. Hearing that you will be departing for the Indian Ocean made my heart ache…you will be close to my brother. Be safe, soak in the beauty…and feel Rocky’s spirit. I know you, too, have felt those deep feelings of grief…there are so many layers to love and to loss. All my love to you on your own journey. I Will see you this summer when you return.

  11. My Dear Susan, I’ve read your blog and felt such an outpouring of love and rememberence. I can’t believe how much you’ve endured recently my heart goes out to you and your beloved family. I too have lost a sister Dianne in February and everyday I think of her and remember her smile. Thank you for your words. Hugs and love to you & your family. Theresa

    1. Theresa, I did not know about your sister…and in the same month that Rocky passed. My heart goes out to you as well. You are so dear to our family and have been a pillar of strength for my parents. I have eternal gratitude to you for the light you’ve brought to their lives. I look forward to seeing you soon. Sending you my love and my thanks, Susan

  12. My Dear Cousin, Friend, Sister, I love you. As difficult as this was to get through (I’m still crying) I felt uplifted in the end. Do you know when I started to cry? When you describe Rocky’s grief in giving up his precious dreadlocks. That’s when it hit me, Rocky’s sweet, generous heart; giving up something so precious to him for someone else; for his mother. It doesn’t get better than that! These beautiful memories will get you through this. Rocky will guide you. We need to follow his lead. It’s tough though, isn’t it? Life tends to get in the way of living. You, strong, beautiful girl will not let it; you will dance in the flames!

    1. I love you Julie…what you said about the dreads…that was exactly right! It was his kind heart and giving them up for Mom. Feels like it was yesterday. I talk to him all the time…I know he will guide me…I can feel him. I can’t wait to see you in May. xoxoxox

  13. Hi Susan,

    I think its time for the punchline that you already know: You write multiple times “My brother wrote, “For anything new to begin, something has to end……this is the journey of life….and I love every minute of it!”
    What “new” will begin, my brother, now that your life has ended?” I would daresay the answer is “To begin life anew, having remembered all the miracles, insights, teachings, revelations that your brother has left for you in his beautiful song.” Yes, you are right that your life as it was couldn’t continue without him in it. It was not meant to continue like that. You would then begin life anew, for we can start and end our lives as many times as we want on the inside while we exist. I talk not of physical death, suicide, but I talk of little deaths, of thought, of mindset, of sponsoring thoughts, OF BEING.

    With Gratitude,

    1. YES! And Peter, this quote by brother, “For anything new to begin, something has to end……this is the journey of life….and I love every minute of it!” is the opening for my new book that I’m writing. And I can only imagine the gifts I’ll discover in the space his parting has left behind. One of my favorite quotes by Gandhi: “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”

      With love and gratitude,

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