Monday, January 21, 2008

What if we are never, ever really gone?

It’s been hard to settle into writing something for this blog in past weeks. Every time I sit down to cobble some words to the page, they seem trite and superficial. How do you confine great, empty feelings of loss into mere words?

New Brunswick has been robbed of much of its future in recent months. Car accidents have stolen nineteen young people…gone with the passing of a single breath.

Last summer, Harrison Trimble High School lost five teens – one young girl in July; four boys in a single car crash in September. They were just teenagers doing what teens do. Having fun.

In October four more teens from Kent County. Gone.

Days before Christmas, my own Albert County lost three young men – Shaun Williamson, Dana Butland and Kris Irving - when their car left the road and flipped into Shepody Bay.

Then this past week, images of the Boys in Red from Bathurst - Codey Branch, Daniel Hains, Nick Quinn, Nick Kelly, Javier Acevedo, Justin Cormier, Nathan Cleland and teacher, Beth Lord - have filled our newspapers, TV screens and our hearts.

I delivered a eulogy at the funeral of a dear friend last week - an elderly man who drifted quietly away after a long, well-lived life, leaving each of us with special memories. Part of it included this quote from Carl Frederick Beuchner, which is, perhaps more appropriate than any words I can find within my own heart:

"When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are.

"It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me.

"It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

"For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way."

Yesterday, I stood outside in a gentle snowfall and caught several large snowflakes on my bare hand. I had just a moment to appreciate the unique fragility of each one before they were gone...and I was left with a single drop of water in my palm. Just snowflakes in another form. I touched my lips to the water.


Victoria Cummings said...

Deb - What a beautiful post, and I love the quote. It is one of the hardest things in the world to be with someone - young or old - following your daily routine, and then, unexpectedly, they are gone. All the things that you wish you’d said and done with them keep haunting you. I lost a dear friend in high school in a car accident. I lost my best friend to AIDS. I lost my dad over a long illness that lasted many years. My father-in-law died of a heart attack at his desk. I came to realize that how you deal with loss does indeed define you. But I still feel the spirit of those I loved. A friend suggested to me that whenever I have a hard time, I should imagine my dad standing next to me with his arm around my shoulder, and it will give me strength. Believe me, it works.

Tracey said...

Deb, You are so gifted. Thanks for posting the quote. Know when memory doesn't serve me well I can come here and read it. Most importantly thanks for your(and Pat's)words at the funeral. You brought beautiful memories to all of us about our special Pop.

Deborah Carr said...

Thanks Tracey - Your grandparents are so very special to us. It was truly an honour to be asked to share what Archie meant to us and how his presence enriched our lives.

I'm an only child, so having such a close connection with your family has been a precious gift to me and as well for Pat, as his family lives elsewhere.

Thank you for including us!

jodi said...

Hey, dear's been a rough time of late for so many people, but I've been heartsick about the boys from Bathurst, like so many others. We had a bad crash before Christmas, of two young brothers, one who died, the other who is still in hospital. I too hope that we're never ever really gone--and in my world, those who leave aren't gone, because I have the memory garden in tribute to many.
I'm sorry about your friend too, but what a lovely eulogy you gave. What a blessing to the family.

Diane said...

Deb this is beautiful. You've cobbled together the right words and any of us who read this are/will be touched. Having lost my dear mother in the past year, I'm still moving through and seeking my 'new normal'. I'm not there yet, though the struggle partly is keeping her alive, though in a different form, as you so eloquently demonstrate.

I hold on to these lyrics from the Rankin family's song "Rise Again":
That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

Alberta Postcards, was Sand to Glass
Diane's Flickr photos