“Because death is so full
and man so small.
And I’m scared of what’s behind
and what’s before…”
-Mumford & Sons
I sit here in the silence of a new morning with a quiet heart. The shadow of something heavy lingers in the back of everything. The knowledge of news imparted, but not yet fathomed.
Death is a mysterious guest, isn’t he? We think we know. We tell stories of a better place; talk about the curtain between life and beyond. It carries its own solemn poetry wherever it goes, but we don’t wholly understand it. We can’t. Those who walk the path never return to tell the tale. It takes faith to believe they are still there, somewhere, because all we know is they’re no longer here. And to think that they aren’t anywhere… well, how are we to understand that?
How can someone with a single breath simply cease to exist?
That is an idea I simply cannot wrap my head around, much like death itself. I do not fear death. I’m probably one of few who can say it and mean it. I am not afraid of my fate. I know it will come one day. What I fear more is not living before that day comes.
But when someone I know passes through shadow, it is always so hard for me to comprehend.
My dear friend, when I close my eyes, I still see your face. I remember the smell of your shirt, the life in your eyes, the sound of your voice. How can I forget? I was barely nine when I moved to North Carolina. You and your wife owned the only hardware store in town. I would go to your store with my Daddy where you two would chat over the counter.
We still laugh about that time with my brother and the ‘stolen’ pine needles… how many times have we told that story?
I’ve read the e-mail over and over again telling me you were gone. I’m not up there to see the funeral. I won’t get to say goodbye with the rest of town. I won’t see your face just one more time. But I have yet to cry and it’s because…
Well, it’s because I cannot fathom the words on the page.
You were just there. I wrapped my arms around your neck that Sunday in December, and you wished me luck on my new adventure. I told you I’d see you soon. I am not there to see the empty chair beside my seat on Sunday. I’m not home, I cannot begin to perceive the hole you’ve left behind in your absence.
Because I’m still trying to realize those first words on the page:
What does that mean?
I don’t think I really know.
All I know is I love you, dear friend. And I miss you, just like I do every Sunday when I wake up and realize I won’t be going to my Dad’s class. I won’t be sitting between you and Jean and Ed and Grace. My story’s changed. It’s a different chapter now.
And so it seems the same for you.
“There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”
-Mumford & Sons