When my brother first went missing, in 2003, I was swamped. Denial, hope, desperation, terror. As the years passed, with no news from Africa about Christian’s whereabouts, I went through anticipatory grief, fearing he was dead but not having any closure. The glimmer of hope, though, kept alive the possibility that he’d just walk back into our lives.

Hope kept me going for 15 years. Fleeting and intangible. And that’s why I believe hope keeps you chained, unable to move forwards. Hope kept me in grief. Hope kept me in fear. Hope kept me in denial. Of course, my brother was dead. But I couldn’t face that fact. It was easier to think of him as being lost or ill, rather than attacked and dead.

In the end, I had to face the future without him. In 2017, after a rekindled search for him on social media failed, I was a complete mess. It’s painful to even think back to that time, when I felt I was alone, unloved and unsupported, even though I had my own very happy family life. Christian was only 14 months younger than me – my soulmate in so many ways.

Without hope, what was the alternative?

How was I supposed to carry on without him?

Well, for me, it was as simple as asking for help. I knew I could do no more to drag Christian towards me, and I was completely broken, so I handed the responsibility of finding him to God / The Universe / Source (delete to fit your beliefs). It was the surrealist feeling, giving up the fight and allowing myself to rest and recuperate. I knew, at that point, that I had to look after myself. My heart’s desire was being taken care of; somehow I knew that unseen magic and miracles were unfolding. 

My self-care centred around yoga, meditation and being surrounded by Nature. The strangest things started to happen, some of which frightened or bewildered me, at first. I was given a pair of eagle wings during one meditation.

“What am I supposed to do with them?” I asked. 

“Put them on, of course. See how they feel. Start off by flapping. Get a feel for them. Then rise up a little. Keep beating. Keep rising. See how far you can rise. See how far you can see.” 

In my mind’s eye, I imagined myself all eagle-like. If you’ve watched footage of an eagle soaring, by way of a camera fitted to its head, you’ll get the idea of what I could see below me. I had freedom. I had perspective. I had the gift of penetrating vision.

These wings raised me. 

By shape-shifting into eagle form, I began to see my fear and pain in a different light. I could see details I’d previously missed. I could see the past clearly and see where the future lay, if I carried on chasing after my brother. I had to dare to see the situation differently. 

Our sibling relationship had to change. There was no point in hunting for him, because I’d hit every brick wall there was to hit. I’d done all I could to find him. I decided to do the only thing left: become a lighthouse.

So, I set about clearing up our relationship, which meant getting rid of all the anger and mistrust which blocked our communication. If the beacon of light in my heart was the most powerful it could possible be, he’d feel it. He’d know he was loved. And supported. And trusted. Then it was up to him. I could stop feeling hope.

It didn’t take long for Christian to find my light. He was guided to it. He started to join me in my meditations, also in eagle form. I can’t tell you the sheer joy and elation I felt that first time we flew together: the somersaults, the twists and turns, soaring wingtip-to-wingtip. It was pure love. 

“I’m coming back to you, Han, in real life. I’ve been away far too long. It’s time. I’m turning my back on Africa.” 

He told me this countless times. But he never appeared in ‘real life’. 

I’m choosing to honestly tell you about my eagle wings, because I know that I was gifted them for a double reason. They were for me, and for you, dear readers.

Does hope keep you chained to a heart’s desire, which repeatedly fails to materialise?

Do you feel so broken and low that hope has been extinguished? 

Then, please, let me gift you some eagle wings. There is a freedom available to you. There is new light you can shed on your situation. There is an alternative future ahead of you, if you look past the obvious. Open yourself wide and fly towards it – you’ll always be supported by your wings. They’ll hold you up, even if you start to falter, and, once you trust your eagle wings, no-one can take them from you, as you fly higher and higher. Stronger and stronger.

As for my brother… well, I did find Christian. He’s still in his eagle form and we fly together all the time. We just never knew that he was dead, until the time was right for truth to replace hope.