I wrote this for a Facebook group honoring the memory of my friend Scott, who died earlier this year. I'm transferring it here because it elicited a powerful response from a lot of people, and because I want to be able to find it again later when I need some reassurance.
Every year at Burning Man they build a giant wooden temple - this year, it was the largest temporary wooden structure in the world, or so I was told - and at the end of the week they burn it to ashes. Participants are encouraged to write on the walls throughout the week; sometimes these messages are spiritual in nature, but most often they are messages to the departed.
I'm not the most spiritual person, but I made the pilgrimage out to the temple in the middle of the Black Rock Desert this year. I scrawled a quick message to Scott on the bannister of the arch on the right of this picture. It was powerful, and somber, and sobering. I couldn't really talk about it for days afterwards.
On the way back from the temple, we were caught in a dust storm. It was the biggest we experienced all week: fifteen minutes of white-out conditions, sitting immobile in the middle of dessert, sand piling up in my ears. All I could think was, "I'm pretty sure even Scott would have been impressed."
We didn't stay to watch the temple burn; it's a long drive home, and I had to get back to work. I'm glad to know that it did, though. I guess I hope he got the message somehow, but I know it doesn't really matter. I can say that I'm glad I took the chance to send it. It's honestly the first time I've felt any peace while thinking about him.
Anyway, I figure even if he couldn't read the message, he sure would have been impressed by the fire.