They’re shooting at our regiment now.”
I read the quote above and put down the New York Times, the gallows humor too profound to ignore. The article by Mark Epstein was quoting a friend whose contemporaries were dying.
Mine are, too. At an alarming rate. My Christmas card list this year showed a disturbing number of deletions.
There’s nothing like a realization about death to make you think about life. It also makes you count your blessings, so herewith a few thoughts on both subjects. Continue reading “They’re Shooting at Our Regiment Now” »
Posted on July 11th 2014 in Death
Do the people you love own certain times of your day – stalwart custodians of some magical clock?
I never meet a day or a coffee pot without remembering the sound of my father’s voice in the early morning. I see him standing by the coffee pot, his greeting optimistic as dawn, cup in hand ready to reach it out to me, sustenance of so many kinds writ large in that eternal gesture of generosity. Continue reading “Timing is Everything” »
Posted on April 12th 2014 in Death
It occurred to me today, as I found myself standing in the middle of the family plot talking to the people I love who are no longer with me except in spirit and memory, that anyone not Irish might consider it odd to find comfort in a cemetery. Yet, I always do.
I’d gone there to to talk to my family about life and I’d brought coffee because they’d loved it and because I thought it might be a lengthy conversation. A middle-aged woman passing by smiled and waved at me from the road below. “I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one who brings coffee when I come to chat, ” she called out and we both laughed at the loveable absurdity of the scene.
Maybe it’s the fact that we used to visit old graveyards when I was a child – admiring the tumbledown tombstones, scrying the inscriptions, imagining the heartaches both recent and long ago. So much history captured in moldering memorials – died in childbirth… lost in infancy… gone but not forgotten… we will miss you forever – so much of love and anguish preserved forever in a line or two. I used to wander from stone to stone reading the messages, imagining lives. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve lost so many of those dearest to my heart that makes this a place of solace for me. Continue reading “The Family Plot” »
Posted on January 12th 2013 in Death
“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can decide how you’re going to live now.”
—Joan Baez, Folksinger
When my daughter died at thirty-five, in the midst of my grief, I had an irrational recurrent guilt that I hadn’t bought her more hot fudge sundaes. She loved them so, but in a lifetime of illness and heart problems, her weight was always her bane, and so hot fudge sundaes were few and far between for her. Continue reading “What Do You Love?” »
Posted on April 15th 2011 in Death
, Loving Life
Losing a child is a special kind of grief, irrevocably out of sync with nature. We’re not supposed to bury our children — the mind and heart rebel and struggle to find a place to contain the unbearable and unthinkable.
We give birth to infinite love when we give birth to our children. Joy, hope, dreams, ambitions all crystallized in one tiny new life, unsullied by the world’s perfidies or sorrows. We hold our small miracle in our arms in a state as close to ecstasy and God as humankind ever gets. Continue reading “On the Death of a Child” »
Posted on April 10th 2011 in Death
When my daughter died, I couldn’t find the strength to say the words aloud. Passed away, I could manage, as if she still hovered somewhere just outside my reach. Died was final and irrevocable and I simply could not say the word.
The first few weeks after her death were a haze of grief. A time of pain so deep it blotted out light. When I roused from this torpor of sorrow — through no effort of my own, mind you, but because the human spirit seeks survival against all odds and assaults – I found myself not quite alive, but in a period of sleepwalking. Continue reading “The Heart That Once Truly Loves Never Forgets” »
Posted on April 10th 2011 in Death