For Otto

Emily Wolf
3 min readJun 14, 2023

On the second anniversary of your inexplicable death, I want to name and thank you for what you’ve taught me so far.

Life is tenuous, we control so little. Absorbing this fact is both terrifying and freeing. Because of you, I am booking that trip, leaning into that snuggle, throwing that party, taking that walk, saying my piece, acknowledging what I really want in this life and seeking it.

Love does not die. What a rub that the only way to fully understand this is to lose. Love is the most (only?) central, transcendent, eternal thing we know. My love for you grows, our relationship develops, our understanding of each other’s souls deepens. I know your nature from the ways you show up, the signs you send, the messages you relay. You are sunshine, and you are everywhere.

Joy and celebration are always an option. Whenever I feel sad about the loss of you, there you are, showing me the flip-side of the coin, encouraging me to revel in your brother, celebrate how far our family has come, how much we have healed. To find joy in a memory or celebrate all the moments that, when strung together, make a life.

Grief is holistic. It is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. It is shape-shifting and untamable. It is always with us for as long as we draw breath. There is no one or right way to grieve. The only way through grief is to accept it and have faith in our power to heal, even when healing seems nowhere to be found.

We have become separated from ourselves and our innate, instinctive knowing. Death is inevitable. Loss is inevitable. We should stop and make space for grief when it strikes. We should have rituals and ceremonies at all stages of the journey. Our structures should allow for grief and healing. We should acknowledge when someone is shattered. We should not avoid grief or those who are grieving because that is avoiding life. We used to know these things and observe them. You’ve taught me to do what my primordial self knows to do.

Grief and loss are hideous. It will never be remotely OK that you are not growing and talking and eating and charming us in your perfect human container. You have taught me that grief is also a gift — a strange, most difficult gift. A clarifier, a bringer of richness and depth, the ultimate proof of love.

The world is full of magic. If you stop to look, you will see it — in the bird that hovers by your window, the butterfly that flutters next to you long enough to notice, the winking light, the brilliant sunset that unfolds for beauty’s sake alone. And if you are blinded by pain, the universe knows — the magic will find you anyway.

Two years in, this is what I know.

You are magic.

You bring love.

You give love.

You are love.

When I close my eyes, inhale, and listen through the quiet, I find you. Because love is everywhere, so are you.



Emily Wolf

Author, worker, woman, wife, U2-loving frazzled mama.