E.U.P. February 27, 1995 — March 24, 2005.
Above: my nephew and me, a very long time ago. I’ve posted the photograph above, some explanatory text, and the poem below each year for the past three years on this date to bear witness. He was not a month into 10 years old when he died. It was cancer (glioblastoma multiform: brain, spinal cord).
Muted backstory about him here (you have to read about half-way through to start to get to it).
I don’t write about him much (find it hard to, though I took a pass at it here a month ago). Neither do I write about the impact of his death on much of anyone else but me, out of respect for privacy. The shorthand: much is very broken; some things you’d expect to be, and some things — precious things — you would never have guessed. This sort of pain has a tendency toward metastasis.
Really, this whole blog is a paean to him (said so in the very first post back in 2005), insofar as it is an extended sign of my attempt to live my life and my parenthood with eyes and heart as wide open as possible, and to grab as many people by the lapels as I can, and urge them to do the same. For this enduring parting gift, my gratitude to him continues to be 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.
This year, I add this coda: