Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dealing with Death

I've never been very fond of death. Sometimes it isn't very fair. Recently on an email group someone died and I passed along two poems that have helped me deal with death. I'll include them here, as well as a little explanation of how those poems have helped me deal with death.

You can cry because she is gone
Or you can smile because she lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want, smile,
open your eyes, love and go on
by David Harkins

The first poem helped me deal with the death a year ago of my dear friend Carol. It was the first death I felt ok about. We had a chance to say we loved each other and to say good bye. I kept her telephone number on my cell and home phones until just recently. She was a knitter, although not prolific. During the chemo treatments she didn't have the energy to finish an afghan she made for a former neighbor's child. I inherited it and have finished it. Now I have to get my butt over there and give it to her. My final gift to Carol. She is with me daily as I knit. She had one of those fabric bags on crossed wooden legs you can put your project in, and I inherited that as well. It sits beside me in the living room. I also inherited all her yarn, and assorted accessories. I left her one day and spoke with the hospice nurse on the way out. I said it wasn't fair that it took so long...Carol never was very patient! I went out to the car and prayed that God would take her soon. I didn't go in the next day, but a neighbor did. About 1/2 hour after the neighbor left her, Carol passed away. I was out doing what Carol loved, shopping. Carol would have loved it...Everytime I shop I think of her...When I buy peonies I think of her...she loved them and they were the only flowers she ever had in her house because of pollen allergies - she put up with the symptoms every year because she loved peonies...I always thought it was weird - my grandmother loved and grew peonies.

Parable of Immortality ( A ship leaves . . . )

I am standing by the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch
until at last she hangs like a peck of white cloud
just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!
Gone where? Gone from my sight - that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the places of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
'There she goes! ' ,
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
'Here she comes!'
by Henry Van Dyke - 1852 - 1933

This second poem helped me get over the sudden death of my father in 2002. Well, sort of get over...I doubt I'll ever stop grieving for him. He was the wisest, most wonderful person in my life. It still hurts as much today as it did then. I "chat" with him several times a week (although never out loud if people are near...I doubt they'd understand). I chat with him when I see winter turn to spring, when spring blossoms into summer, when summer fades to fall, when fall finally gives up and lets winter come into its own; those quintessential days when you KNOW the season has just changed. I chat with him when I see wildlife, or animal or bird tracks in the mud, and even when driving and find myself lost - he had such a great sense of direction! Sometimes I can think or speak of him without tears...more often than not I can't. I will always miss him.

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