Posts Tagged 'eulogy'

A Walking Eulogy

Goodbye is a useless word.

As we drift apart, by choice or by fate, reflexive sadness drifts in. The ears cry out for remembered voices, the eyes beg to behold familiar forms. The senses fool us into focusing on sights and sounds, hiding the blinding and deafening truth:

Nobody is ever gone.

It is impossible to leave someone you love. A relationship of any depth leaves traces of each individual in the other, small parcels joyfully–if unwittingly–carried through the remainder of their journeys in the safe deposit boxes in their hearts.

The chemistry of human interaction forever transforms both parties without fail. Even the slightest connections etch the looking glass of who we are and what we do.

A penetrating gaze into the mirror of action can reveal anyone from the past.

When I exemplify unbending honesty, I am Winifred.

When I show fierce loyalty, I am Patricia.

When I display unceasing compassion, I am Rosemary.

When I tell a sweeping story, I am Howard.

When I get an ornery smirk before making a joke, I am Carol.

When I open a door or extend a hand for a woman, I am Jerry.

Though they have passed through the veil of this life or disappeared into the fog of dementia, their lives cast large shadows into mine

As long as I breathe, they ripple through generation upon generation across oceans of time.

I am, in part, a walking eulogy.

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We’re all going to die.

Day by day, we move through our tasks focused on what must be done more often than the larger context of what we’re doing. We trade a sense of meaning for a myopic view of crunching numbers or approaching deadlines.

Periodically we are given shocks to our mortality. Tragedy befalls someone publicly or, more frequently, the time comes for a person we are connected to. In the latter case, the stains of sadness linger in our lives longer.

My phone lit up with it’s characteristic “brrrring” signaling the arrival of a text message around 7am Monday. I learned through half-opened eyes that a family friend had passed away at the age of 94 after battling multiple ailments over the last few years, particularly prostate cancer.

I last saw him briefly on Christmas Eve, the first time in quite a while. Gone was the characteristic energy in his voice, clouded by the fog of a mind that’s edge had been dulled. We each wrapped an arm around the other, as always, and exchanged affectionate words for a minute before I headed out into the cold air to pull my car up to the door to pick up my mother.

His kindness and encouragement will remain fond memories, particularly the way he said “How you doin’, guy?” as he shook my hand at holiday gatherings…which inevitably led to us sitting together for a few minutes discussing all the happenings since our last meeting.

I wrote my cousin a brief email to express my condolences. This was not our shared grandfather, though I count the man as part of my extended family. My cousin replied:

“He seemed to have a positive influence on everyone he met and I’m glad that you had the opportunity to be around him.”

Old FriendsWe should all live that our eulogies may be written so.

I’m glad, too.

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