Monday, November 23, 2009

Upon the loss of a friend....

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without affect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

Death is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)
Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral

sometimes referred to as 'What is Death?'


I received some very sad news this morning. My neighbor and old friend in the Adirondacks passed away serenely this morning.
I always called him by his "nickname," Lum. I consider it one of life's privileges to have known him for as long as I did. He was 81 years at his passing, and I considered more like an older brother than just a friend. He taught me alot in the time we were friends... The meaning of working hard, living a clean life, accepting people for who they are, and not having any pretentious airs.
He was one of those unforgettable characters that appear in one's life only rarely, but leave an impression larger than life itself.
He was a product of his time, growing to manhood in an era in the mountains when life was much more difficult in a harsh environment. Skidding logs out of the woods with a team of horses in the bitter cold, and getting that team rigged up and into the woods long before the sun came up. He was self sufficient and relied upon himself... Why I respected him so.
He knew everything about his area of the Adirondack Mountains, and taught me unselfishly some of the things I needed to know. I was a Flatlander, but he tutored me as if I was family.
He would have done anything to help me, and his mere presence when I was working on something I was not sure of was reassuring.
He told me stories of the old days, and I was always mesmerized... How he ran the town plow with his "wingman" in brutally heavy snowfalls... Of the characters he worked amongst and came to know along the way, such as "Whalebone."
I guess in recent months, I knew this day was coming, but I didn't think so soon. Lum didn't like the long, cold and dark winters in recent years, so in a small way, I'm thankful my friend was not forced to endure another when he was not well.
But, I'll miss him... His family will miss him... The mountains will miss him. A chapter in the book of the early Adirondacks has drawn to a close.
They say that we do not grieve for the deceased, but for the loss of companionship we feel when that special person departs. I suppose that's true, because the old Mountains will never quite be the same for me without the presence of my friend. Something has been lost... Something that can never be again. We accept these losses and move on, as we must. But this winter will be just a wee bit darker and colder.. The next spring just a wee bit rainier, and the summer jut a bit more humid and unbearable.

My friend has finished his journey... There is no more pain and suffering, and for that I am thankful.

To my friend Lum... until we meet again.....

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