E.U.P. Â â€¢ Â February 27, 1995 — March 24, 2005.
[I posted this very same photograph and poem last year (here).
Muted backstory here (I provided an anchor link to the relevant part). Reader Chumpy posted this link to Joby Talbot’s “Cumulonimbus” in a comment on last year’s post, and I still find it compellingly apropos.
I also still find it near impossible to write (here) directly about my nephew himself, much less about his illness and death. Â Only slightly more possible have been my Â attempts at describing the mark his joie de vivre, coupled with his illness and death, have left on my parenthood, about which: Â here and here.
At some level this whole blog is a paean to him, though, insofar as it is one sign one of my attempt to live my life and my parenthood with my eyes and heart as wide open as possible. Â For which enduring parting gift, my gratitude to him is oceanic.]
“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.
9 thoughts on “Four years”
What a beautiful post. You’ve done a great job of sharing your nephew’s gift. Thank you for the reminder.
This is beautiful.
Hard not to have tears
here at work
for your nephew and all of the others.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for sharing
I lost my father two years, I can’t begin to imagine loosing a neice/nephew though
You do an amazing job remembering your nephew, celebrating your nephew, and sharing him with us. Thank you for that–and I’m so very sorry that you have this task before you. That’s a gorgeous photo.
Thank you, all.
The picture, Susan, is of him as a pretty young guy of maybe four or five (he lived ’til a few weeks past ten). We were hiking back from a day of fun at a Sierra lake, and someone (my sister? my beloved?) took this. I loved it then, and love it even more now.
Indeed: Mary Oliver is a national treasure.
That is exactly why I take pictures everyday – especially candid ones. They tell the truth of that moment, that instant.
It’s a great photo.
Ever since I had my own little girl 15 months ago I find it incredibly hard to think about the idea of loss of a child. Your “muted backstory” link is beautifully said, so thank you.