Four Attempts to Understand Death
Death is summer as if fades to autumn. The tall trees don their colorful crowns in homage to the waning, golden light. Goodbys are said; joyful memories are shared. Then the leaves fall slowly, quickly and the trees are silent, skeletal.
The Oak, who was loyal and loving, is now at rest, and a frost descends upon the world.
And this Oak was felled suddenly, unaware of the lumberjack in the forest. And he lingered until they realized he was uprooted, and sorrow eclipsed hope.
He leaves behind a beautiful Maple and five young saplings, aged in single digits.
I use language to elucidate and obfuscate. I am abusing metaphors because I need a place to hide, to ease the pain with Oban, to find solace. And words have always been faithful friends, so they will understand when I lash out in anger, only to return chastened, begging for forgiveness.
The last time I saw you, you were standing in a grocery store. You held a basket, I pushed a cart. I kissed your cheek, and we spoke about weather, children, football.
“Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” - Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin? (You decide; I'm tired.)
There are many who are hurting, John. Men - strong, stoic men like yourself - are crying into their beers and whiskeys. You left us too soon, and now we must love you from afar.
Today, they will plant you in Irish soil. A transplant returns home.
But Twain reminds us, "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."
Let that be our mantra, if only for today.
June 1, 1970
August 14, 2013