January 23rd, 2006


Meditations at a Funeral

The circle of life, it isn' t so much a circle. Each individual strand must inevitably come to an end. Not a circle at all, not with each distinct beginning and end.

We know this is how it works, every life must end. That being so, why does it hurt so when it happens?

It's funny, or at least it makes me thoughtful, how somebody else's loss can make me think about my own losses. My past ones, and my future ones. Death reminds us of the pain of our loved ones' mortality.

But this is what we do, regardless. We come together for one another, we put aside our own sadness or contemplativeness to help carry the burdens of our friends. Or even if I can't really help carry anything, at least my presence can help them know they're not alone.

No man is an island. It makes sense that this death makes me a little thoughtful and sad, this Uncle, Father, and Brother of people for whom I care. I love that essay. Every loss does affect me, everyone's pain is my pain, this is part of being human. I would not have it any other way.

The water is wide, I cannot swim. And neither have I wings to fly.... But build me a boat, and we both shall row, my love and I.

I sit here alone today, but in life I am not alone. I know this, even if I forget sometimes. Nobody is... And maybe we should spend more time in life together, remembering and celebrating that.

This post dedicated to Leo, and Howard, and departed friends everywhere.

No man is an island

John Donne
Meditation XVII: No man is an island...

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...

As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....

Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?...

No man is an island, entire of itself. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee...."