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Heartbreak for #60 August 20, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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It’s been noted in several other places that Caps goaltender Jose Theodore’s two-month-old son has passed away.

The death of a child is a tragedy; the death of a newborn is crushing. My sincerest condolences to Jose and his family.

Some passages to consider:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
–Mary Elizabeth Frye

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.–Ecc 7:3, NRSV

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
–Alfred, Lord Tennyson

One sunny morning, we’ll rise I know,
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.
–Bruce Springsteen

Even such is Time, which takes in trust
Our youth, and joys, and all we have;
And pays us but with age and dust,
Which, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days:
And from which earth and grave and dust
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.
–Sir Walter Raleigh

I stay, I pray
See you in heaven far away.
I stay, I pray
See you in heaven one day.
–Mike Oldfield

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.–Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-3, NRSV

Would you know my name,
If I saw you in Heaven?
Would it be the same,
If I saw you in Heaven?
I must be strong,
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in Heaven.
–Eric Clapton

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God Himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”–Rev 21:3-4a, NRSV

It’s difficult to know where to begin when contemplating the loss of someone who had just begun to live. The question is “Why?”, and there are both too many answers, and none at all.

Consider first the passage from Ecclesiastes. “By the sadness of countenance, the heart is made glad.” I have seen that in action in my own life, and I can say firsthand that it’s true enough to be nearly a law of nature. There have been times in my life where I’ve lost friends and loved ones, and tried to act like I was too composed to mourn. That has always–every single time–ended up making the process more complicated. So go on and cry–in a cruel world, facing a tragic loss, genuine sorrow is nearly always what’s best for the heart.

Let’s turn now to Tennyson. The key part here is this: “And may there be no sadness of farewell when I embark.” Tennyson knew that death was not the end of life, but only part of a much longer journey. What waits beyond the harbor of life, he doesn’t know. He does know, however, that it’s time to set sail upon waters unknown. But he has one last hope: “I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have crossed the bar.” Once past the bar, and out to sea, he hopes to see the face of God. And so he tells those back on the shore not to be sad at his departure: even though he’s not sure what’s out past the bar, he does trust his Pilot. And he does know that his journey isn’t over yet.

Which brings me to Mary Elizabeth Frye. “Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I do not die.” Yes, it is certainly true that a sad face is good for the heart. While it is good to cry, the point here is not to stand at the grave and cry, for it means you’ve stopped there, and intend to stay there. Those we’ve lost, are always with us. There’s no need to stay in one place, mourning. Instead, look around. The softly falling snow, the starshine of the night, the flowers that bloom, all of these can remind us of the loved ones we’ve lost–and will, one day, see again. We don’t have to stay in one place and cry.

And this is where Eric Clapton comes in. “I must be strong, and carry on, ’cause I know I don’t belong here in Heaven.” The passing of a loved one gets us all to contemplate, however briefly, our own eternal fates. For a few moments, we all stand, metaphorically, at the gates of Heaven to wish our loved ones farewell. But we can’t stay there. We don’t belong. Our time has not come yet. Heaven, for us, is, as Mike Oldfield has it, far away. And yet we still pray to see them again, in Heaven, one day. Until then, we can rest assured, as The Wisdom of Solomon has it, that their souls are in the hands of God; no torment shall touch them; and that they are, indeed, at peace.

But it still isn’t easy for those of us who must live on. For not only do we get a short glimpse of Heaven in the passing of a loved one, but we’re also forced to confront our own impermanence. Sir Walter Raleigh put it well: time takes away our youth and our joys, and gives us back age and dust. Still, “from which earth and grave and dust/the Lord shall raise me up, I trust.” And here is where we consider Bruce Springsteen: “One sunny morning, we’ll rise, I know, and I’ll meet you further on up the road.” Our own time will come one day, and most of us will leave loved ones behind on Earth as well. And yet, that will be our time to go further on up the road, and be reunited with those we’ve loved, who have gone before.

For now, though, living on is our responsibility. But it is so hard, isn’t it? They don’t call this place an earthly vale of tears for nothing. And when we lose someone we love, who has only just begun to live, our tears run greater still. On Earth, we may never know why we’ve loved, and lost, one who was so young. But we will know why, once we meet them further on up the road. Until then, we can take comfort in knowing that our loved ones are with their loving Heavenly Father. For “God Himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Those we’re separated from–in truth, for but a hairsbreadth of eternity–are safe in God’s arms. And one day, we will meet them further on up the road.

Jose, you have my sincerest condolences. My prayer for you is that God and His angels will comfort your entire family in the days, weeks, and months to come. Be comforted; be strengthened; and be blessed.

With deepest sympathies,
Capital Spirit

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Comments»

1. Zippidee - August 21, 2009

I am glad I found this blog. I have lived through 2 husbands dying at early ages, 27 and 34, and had a hard time dealing with the deaths at the time. If I had had you to talk to, all may have been easier to understand sooner.
Thanks Capital Spirit

2. Hooks Orpik - August 24, 2009

Very comforting and some excellent analysis of the passages. (Regardless of what team you like too!). Heartbreaking for the Theodores, all the best for them and all that are hurting. Good words CS, I’ll definitely save this post and reflect back on it when it might be needed.


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