The glorious adventure that is life, no matter how bright… how colorful, is always played out against the backdrop of night. From the moment we are born, as our lives unfold… as our pages are written we are always preparing to embrace that final night. I have been thinking about these things of late. Of course some of these thoughts are quite simply a reality of my own age and some come from other places.
A week or so ago Vanessa went to New York for a couple of days and I stayed home with Izze, our five year old daughter. We were out in the yard… I was doing some yard work, getting ready for winter and Izze was running with Eli, our Yorkshire Terrier puppy. I could see that the spirit of life was flowing through their hearts. Izze soared like a prima ballerina. I could see that it was only the laws of gravity that tethered her to the earth. Eli spun and danced as only a puppy can do. In this moment they were two young spirits drinking deeply from the fresh spring of life. It was an uplifting honor for me to be present in that moment.
I was visiting my son Zach at a park near his home in Virginia when he was maybe six or seven… He had just learned to ride a two wheeler and he and his spirit flew over the grass as if any moment he might pull back on the stick and soar into the heavens. Today he is a young man of fourteen and his soaring is a little more understandable to an adult, but that is a different story.
At some point in my life, long ago it was thus for me as well. You take these moments for granted when you are young. It is quite simply your reality. One day you notice that they are fewer and farther between. Sometimes if you are lucky, you have a momentary flashback and for a second or two, you remember what it was like to be new again. I was able to take some time yesterday for a motorcycle ride to town to have dinner with my girls and go to a meeting. It was a beautiful fall day… perfect for riding… not too hot and not too cold. As I was powering through the corners on my way to town, there were vestiges of that soaring that flowed through my being. In some small way, I did remember what it was like.
The night is always there waiting for us… and it is so important for me at this time in my life to live as best I can each day so that when my time comes to embrace the darkness I can do so with few regrets.
A few moments ago, I got a phone call from my friend Ben in Colorado. Our good friend Bob Epstein came back from a trip to Spain with his wife, had a sudden heart attack and died yesterday. He was such a great guy… a great artist, musician, husband, father, friend… a kindred spirit… the kind of man you consider yourself lucky to have known. I’m sure he wasn’t planning on his voyage beyond the stars to come this early in life. I think he was in his sixties, and at my age I consider that far, far too young! As we age, life tends to be so much more about saying goodbye than it is saying hello and that is just the way it is. That said, there is no way to prepare for loss. It comes unbidden when it comes and this is never our call. I have excerpted a passage from a poem by the great Derek Walcott called Oddjob…
is stronger than thunder,
we are stricken dumb and deep
as the animals who never utter love
as we do, except
it becomes unutterable
and must be said,
in a whimper,
in the drizzle that comes to our eyes
not uttering the loved thing’s name,
the silence of the dead,
the silence of the deepest buried love is
the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.
The pain of loss must be balanced by the promise of yet unrealized potential. As I am surrounded by the glory of our fall foliage I am reminded that I am witnessing evolution and growth… the dying of a year in preparation for the next. If indeed our journey on earth is played out against the fall of night then there must surely be a sunrise for those who will follow.
There is never a good time for bad news… that’s for sure but if there is one constant in our lives, it must be change. Those of us left behind will continue to write our story and those gone will live in our hearts and our memories.
‘Birth to death, from the sweet grass to the packing house… we journey between the two eternities.’
Rest well brother Bob!