My husband and I went to a funeral home this afternoon to visit with the family of a man who died this week. Mahlon was 96 years old and had a long, happy life with the respect of his family and friends. His faith was strong and he shared his hope of eternal life with those who visited with him in his last frail days. He knew my husband's family in his youth and loved to tell us about his relationship with them in the early part of the 20th century. He witnessed many changes in the world in his lifetime. Today was a celebration of a life well lived, more than the grieving that comes with an untimely passing.
I have been reading the poetry of Mary Oliver this month and have enjoyed her poems that deal with subjects related to death, both of human kind and also of the "circle of life" as seen in the natural world. This was my favourite as it speaks so eloquently of living life to the fullest each day and facing death preparedly and fearlessly.
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.