When I looked at my own newborn, 21 years ago, I remember being dazzled by how miraculous ‘life’ was. I had made a human being, who would have a character and personality and DNA unique to him. I thought about how many lives each life touches, how many lives my son’s life would touch or change. The miraculous thing that life is, is a mystery and a miracle and on some levels just inexplicable. When I looked at my friend’s newborn today. I was struck again by the sheer amazement that comes from witnessing a brand new life enter the world. Who will she be? Where will she go? What will she change? We are amazing, each one of us, what we do should justify that amazing, miraculous, inexplicable gift, life.
There was something distinctly detached in that chapel; the blazing sunshine and natural life that was outside was silent inside the building. The warmth didn’t penetrate through the high windows despite being able to see the ripples of heat haze, the sadness inside seemed to cool and fill all the available air so that you breathed it and felt it on your skin and in your mind. Saying goodbye to someone is such a hugely devastating occurrence; I’ve been in this building to say goodbye to people that were immeasurably close to me and others that I barely knew. Every single time I felt that overwhelming sadness of a light going out. It emanates from every mourner but mostly from those who feel that gap so greviously. The following poem is therefore based on that feeling, that ‘freezing yet continuing’ of time that occurs during the service. So this is for my friends and family near and far. Feel free to use it if it might convey a meaning for you. May it bring peace and a smile to someone, somewhere.
I have come to say goodbye today,
But as I enter in,
The air closes up around me,
The light in here is dim.
Your body rests upon the plinth,
Encased in wood and gold,
Already you are gone from us,
But your soul will never be old.
The room is full of people,
Who knew you long and short in time,
But time has called an end to you,
In the sand, it’s drawn a line.
I remember you as you once were,
To me, you still just ‘are’,
You live inside my memory,
The thought of you not far.
I wonder if you’re here with us,
If you’re present in this shade,
Released from mortal bonds you are,
But you will never fade.
We say so long and cheerio,
And step out into the sun,
And talk and weep and reminisce,
Of memories and fun.
I came to say goodbye today,
But really it’s ‘see you soon’,
For life is just a moment’s gasp,
A blink, a sun, a moon.
Life’s filled with ups and downs and things,
In our deeds, our purpose clear,
Our love and pride of friends and kin,
The people we hold dear.
So until our paths may cross again,
When the dusk reveals me ready,
From now ‘til then, I honour your wish,
That we are unconquered by grief and remain;
I wholeheartedly condemn what happened in France with the Chelsea fans. What I can’t understand though, is the wider angle of what those people did. They bullied and harassed a man going about his daily business, they treated him as less human than they; less entitled, less. That troubles me. It is reminiscent of the holocaust. Whilst on the surface it is about racism, that label is masking a much deeper, more worrying problem: the differentiation of classes of people and a resulting persecution. Replace ‘black’ with ‘Jewish’ or ‘Polish’ or anyone else that has been persecuted. How different is it now? #bemorehuman
And they crave the flowers,
The chocolates and cards,
They’ve missed the point of Valentines, but that’s not really hard.
The point is in a flirting,
Or a wondering over ‘if’,
Or a genuine gesture that says,
I really like you, could this be it?
So keep your mass made pleasantries,
Put away your elegant wrap,
Give me a message of meaning,
Let’s experience the journey and throw away the map.
I don’t know if it’s the time of year, or the state of the world or just a period of reflection but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people that won’t be around this Christmas. My missing baubles. So far, I’m missing a father, a brother, a sister, grandfathers and this will be D’s first Christmas without his dad. It will also be D’s mums first Christmas without her husband of fifty-nine years. Tall orders this year. All around me is new life. Friends are carrying their first-borns to be and even this is making me nostalgic for a time when my own child was small and Christmas was a time of magic and reindeer and Santa! A part of me wishes that we could return to those days. That I could take my grown up head and travel back in time to when I was the most important person in the world to him. When money was paper stuff and he preferred coins. When everything he wanted from me had no price tag; he wanted time, hugs, a walk to the park. I’d like to think I’d appreciate those hugs more and that quiet time telling stories with silly voices. I don’t recall the last time I did any of it – did i notice that it had stopped? That he no longer wanted a hug or a bedtime story? Once they’re grown its over but the memory warms my heart still.
This year, I miss the conversations I would have had with my siblings. The phone call my sister would have made on Christmas day to wish us a Happy Christmas despite her disabilities. I miss the hope that one day, Neil would come home and I would get to know him as an adult as my only memories of him are from when I was a child. Wow, I annoyed him something alarming. I feel as if my world is getting smaller. I feel like every year there are less people in it but I look forward to welcoming the new additions that 2015 will bring us, young, old and in between.
So, here’s to a Happy Christmas complete with missing baubles and new ones, waiting to be discovered. I wish you all the same.
I’m always so troubled about suicides. It seems the ultimate wrong that someone reached a point in life, where they feel it will never get better. There is nothing to look forward to. They look forward and see only a gaping chasm ready to swallow them whole. They feel isolated and unimportant. Then they die and there is this enormous outpouring of love and respect and genuine sadness that they’ve gone. If only the person could see and feel the impact of their passing BEFORE they take their life – see and understand how much they are loved and how they are needed in the world. I’d like to think that we will find a way to start telling people how important they are to us. Life can be cruel and really, it’s just the blink of an eye, but it matters. So tell those people who are important to you that you care, make five minutes if someone needs you and don’t judge when you don’t understand. Just be. A gang of balloons is only really a gang if they are anchored. Otherwise, they’re just individual, drifting balloons. We all need anchors and some of us need to anchor others.
And in giving their all,
We find our loss,
For the gap they filled,
We find our chasm,
For a right to speak and vote,
For a liberty now taken for granted,
For the honour of saying in a united voice, “no”,
For the peace of unfettered sleep,
For a world where humanity lives,
For a child that should not know this violence,
For the ills, the wounds, the haemorrhages of greed,
For these things they gave it,
For these things we miss theirs,
For the connection forever broken but continuously renewed through rememberance,
I say amen,
Rest in peace,
Help us not to be wearied,
To remember and exemplify the beliefs for which you gave your last breath,
And to push on,
So the world may be better,
Brothers will be friends and friends will be blind,
Life will surely be treated, one day,
As the gift it truly is,
For today was given by those who went before.