A lesson from my nephew

E.U.P. • February 27, 1995 — March 24, 2005.

Muted backstory here (towards the end). Care for musical accompaniment? Reader Chumpy posted this link to Joby Talbot’s “Cumulonimbus” the other day, which conveys, at least to me, a sense of grateful wonder, of “a bride married to amazement.”

“When Death Comes”
by Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

7 thoughts on “A lesson from my nephew”

  1. Ah, brother brother.

    I think of your early morning drive to the hospital and what you worried you all were face-to-face with. And then the worries you faced thereafter.

    Sigh, sigh.

    Three years later I know we’re all still in shock, and it’s an ocean of grieving to cross, and we’re just a stone’s throw from the shore. To one degree or another. I think in another seven years, when we hit the point where he’ll have been there as long as here, then we’ll know what shock we’ve been in all this time.

    Sometimes I feel haunted, too, and then other times the blessing of his life seeps through and overtakes the weight of his being so gone, so hard, so quick. In his name, I try to take in the lesson of that brevity, and try to look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, to be a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. Whenever possible.

  2. I’m so glad you don’t live closer to me, because increased exposure to you might very well dissolve my cynicism away into nothingness. And then what would I cling to, huh? What would I cling to then?

  3. You can imagine how hard I tried to find a rear-view picture of a teddy bear, so I could PhotoShop a you-know-what on it. I just can’t bring myself to PhotoShop it on the front side, where the British would say the actual fanny is.

    Meanwhile, I can just flash you (and anyone else who’s looking) this, linked the really engaging site whence it came:

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