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Leo New Moon: The Path with Heart

by Jen Braun
Rex had a good heart.

Physically, sure: Strong and young, he was on the high school track team and could run and run. Boundless energy, that kid.

But my nephew’s heart was more than just strong; it was good. Rex was compassionate and liked helping people. He’d meet me and my spouse in the driveway at the family cabin and enthusiastically carry in my bags because he knew it was difficult for me. He’d ask about my injury, curious how the medical appointments were going. I’d often make jokes – Rex had a stunning smile, and when he laughed hard a dimple would appear under his right eye.

Rex was intrigued by the stars and cosmos. We discussed the mysteries of the galactic center and the far side of the Moon. He was fascinated with black holes and supernovas. One day, he thought, perhaps he’d be an astrophysicist. Maybe he’d work at NASA. I used to text him news articles about the planets and the universe. He was the first person I thought of when I saw the recent 10-year time-lapse video of the Sun.

Rex was not stealthy or quiet: He would burst into a room and command attention. When he’d see my dear friend from high school – her two kids were in marching band with Rex – he’d cheerfully bellow HELLO from any distance… the farther, the better. My friend later told me that she often thought, in those moments, that Rex liked the fact that they both knew me. He sought commonalities with people and had special handshakes with classmates. He chatted with strangers and was genuinely interested in them.

Rex won people’s hearts.

He also struggled with depression and sometimes didn’t fit easily into this world.

Nine months ago, at the age of 17, Rex took his own life.

The New Moon on August 18th (9:41 pm CDT) is at 27 degrees Leo. New Moons are always the point in the lunar cycle for beginnings and fresh starts, a time for planting seeds. The sign of Leo, ruled by the life-giving Sun, is aligned with creative self-expression and the heart. At its best, Leo is generous and dignified and open-hearted.

At this New Moon, the Sun and Moon stand together in Leo, asking: What new journey can we begin that follows the path with heart, and how can we express ourselves in an authentic way?

In the days following that terrible moment, my family and I sat vigil at the hospital while Rex’s body was on mechanical support. By some miracle, although Rex’s spirit was no longer housed in his body, his good heart had never stopped beating.

Arrangements were made for organ and tissue recovery, helping dozens of people in need of lifesaving, life-changing surgery. My brother, Rex’s mom, and his siblings wanted something meaningful to come from their immeasurable loss – to pay tribute to Rex’s life, and to honor his desire to be of service to others. And so, at the most difficult and lowest moment of their lives, they chose the path of generosity.

Two days following his pronounced death, Rex’s good heart went into someone else.

Out of tragedy, something new was planted. One final gift from the boy we loved fiercely, the teen who loved to help.

In a poignant act, at the moment Rex’s body was wheeled away for organ donation, all available hospital personnel lined up along the hallways in what is called a Walk of Honor. As we followed behind Rex’s gurney and down endless passageways, the line of hospital staff went on and on – perhaps 200 or more? – in quiet tribute to Rex. It was, concurrently, the most profound, heartbreaking, beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. An odd solace, all of those kind strangers, many with tears in their eyes, acknowledging Rex with dignity in one silent, powerful gesture.

Rex was sent off with reverence, past a path of 200 beating, grateful hearts.

At this Leo New Moon, consider: What is your path with heart? What can you initiate that lights you up like the Sun? How can you authentically express yourself in an open, bright, big-hearted way? How can you bring light and warmth and love to those around you, even when things are difficult?

It comforts me to know that Rex’s heart is out there somewhere. I like to think that piece of Rex, and so many other pieces of Rex, are out in the world, helping and doing good.

Rex liked to do good.

©2020 Jen Braun. To learn more about Jen, visit her website.

Photo by Alyssa Lund Photography

**A big thank you to Rex’s parents, who gave their blessing to post this essay.**

8 comments to " Leo New Moon: The Path with Heart "

  • Liz

    While we cannot always understand what complexities are happening in someone’s mind, it is heartbreaking nonetheless when one succumbs to suicide. This is a story that most are afraid to speak about. The hommage that Rex’s parents and family have paid to his memory is beautiful. Thank you for sharing his story and the joy that some other family is now able to share the love from Rex.

  • Debra

    Amazing, Jen. My heart breaks for your family. And yet, what incredible nobility this speaks to.
    Blessings on Rex, your family, and all of those fortunate enough to receive the gifts so freely given.

    • Jen Braun

      Debra, that’s such a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much for reading my tribute, and for taking the time to share your warm thoughts.

  • Teresa Tester

    We are “all” ripples on life’s pond! He made a BIG splash and sent out Many more ripples by organ donation! Blessed be the “donors”

  • Suze Braun

    I love how your words seem to come right from your heart and go directly into our hearts—especially this essay in which you begin with writing about Rex’s heart! Your thoughts tugs at my heart.

    Thank you for posing the questions near the end of your essay. I have found myself pondering them this past week.

    As tragic as Rex’s life ended, it’s amazingly beautiful that parts of him (physically, mentally and spiritually) will live on with positive impacts for a long time into the future.

    P.S. That photo of Rex is stunning!

  • Jen Braun

    Suze, what an incredibly sweet and thoughtful note! Thanks for taking the time to read my essay, think about it all, and post a response.

    The photo: It was Rex’s favorite one from his set of Senior photos, taken in front of the lake at the family cabin. He loved that goofy banana shirt.

    Big hugs to you. Xoxo

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