The online writing community to which I belong has been touched by death twice in the last few days. First, one of our much loved members succumbed to cancer, then today another member heard that a local elder, a climbing compatriot of hers, had fallen to his death on a climb, doing the thing that he loved. One death was awaited...the other came unannounced. Both have stirred my thoughts. Though I have met neither of the individuals involved 'in real life', I met my group member and was privileged to witness her courage on an almost daily basis on FaceBook.
No more detail of the particular is necessary - the broader picture is that any close encounter with death brings it into sharper perspective for those left behind - it makes us all think a little more. Sometimes there will be shock, sometimes, relief; sometimes infinite sadness, sometimes inspiration taken from the life that has ended. Permutations of these emotions and an endless variety of other thoughts and feelings.
What to say? What is the right thing to say? IS there a right thing to say? I don't know. Because each death is different and each person touched by the death of another is different. My own belief is that if whatever is said, is said sincerely from the heart, there's a good chance that it will be OK. I'll take the risk, rather than say nothing, and cross by on the other side.
Some are helped by words of comfort...some by words of philosophy. In memory of 'our' Mary and for Dallas, and for those who mourn them, this gentle poem, by Jane Kenyon, offers both...
'Let Evening Come'Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.