Wednesday, March 13, 2013

They'll Always Softly Walk...

(As published in The Dead Beat, Spring, 2013)

Cicero wrote of memory that it “is the treasurer and guardian of all things.” In my time as a funeral professional, I have known this to be so. When someone touches our lives so deeply it is frequently the memories we have of them that fulfill the need we have to be in touch with those who are no longer part of our lives – whether separated by space, time, disagreement, or death. I have often noticed also that memory can serve as an ever-present reminder of things past – both good and bad.

I have missed people in my life; people who have come so close and have been so instrumental in the formation of who, what and where I am; people that I have been separated from by circumstance and by death. In the recent months I have said goodbye to two people who have played a very important part in my life – one by circumstance and one by death. Sadly, in both instances, as with so many, I had no choice but to say goodbye. The memories I have of both of these individuals have brought me so many emotions – and the grief I have experienced at their going from my life is immeasurable.

While I often find it difficult to focus on all things at hand (which is a good reminder of what the families we serve experience at the loss of their loved ones), I know that the grief I experience is not permanent. Time may not heal all pain, but the passing of time and the pursuance of happiness and the remembrance of happy memories I hold in my heart will ease the hurt.

Hugh Robert Orr made the point in his poem, “They Softly Walk.” He reminds us:

They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,

Out from the strong embrace.

They are but come so close

We need not grope with hands,

Nor look to see, nor try

To catch the sound of feet.

They have put off their shoes

Softly to walk by day

Within our thoughts, to tread

At night our dream-led paths

Of sleep.

They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.

In those whom they have blessed

They live a life again,

And shall live through the years

Eternal life, and grow

Each day more beautiful

As time declares their good,

Forgets the rest, and proves

Their immortality.

While his poem is clearly poised to surmount the daunting task saying goodbye to someone because of death, it can easily be applied to the equally painful saying goodbye to someone who is separated from us by circumstance. Knowing that those we love and have loved are only a thought away is a double-edged sword. It is bittersweet in that this fact is both good and bad news. We often remember both joyfully and painfully how people have influenced our lives.

As we all go through life, it is my opinion that our interactions with others should always be remembered. The old saying reminds that people may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. The feelings instilled and inspired in us and in others lasts beyond the time that we say goodbye. Let us remember this as we touch lives around us – and when it is necessary to say goodbye perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder.

At least, that’s my perspective…