Emily Dickinson: Her final summer

PergamonMus

Her final summer was it,
and yet we guessed it not;
if tenderer industriousness
pervaded her, we thought

a further force of life
developed from within,—
when Death lit all the shortness up,
and made the hurry plain.

We wondered at our blindness,—
when nothing was to see
but her Carrara guide-post,—
at our stupidity,

when, duller than our dullness,
the busy darling lay,
so busy was she, finishing,
so leisurely were we!

    --Emily Dickinson  (1830-1886) 


Nancy Byrd Turner: Death is only an old door

  AnOldEnt-1

Death is only an old door
set in a garden wall.
On quiet hinges it gives at dusk,
when the thrushes call.

Along the lintel are green leaves,
beyond, the light lies still;
Very weary and willing feet
go over that sill.

There is nothing to trouble any heart,
nothing to hurt at all.
Death is only an old door
in a garden wall.

  --Nancy Byrd Turner (1880-1971)


Helen Keller: We bereaved are not alone

Lars-Vaular-Flickr-Fres

We bereaved are not alone.We belong to the largest company in all the world, the company of those who have known suffering.
When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy hearted into which our grief has given us entrance, and inevitably, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world.So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.

    --Helen Keller (1880-1968) in Peace at Eventide (1929)


Áine ní Ghlinn: The warmth of the kitchen is cold

Kulicki-flickr

In the kitchen

For Robbie

I hear the hollow shovel, bleak
against the laughter of the sun
Sun, where shall I go now?
The warmth of the kitchen is cold.

I sense the hand once held in mine
the train discarded in the corner
Train, where will you go now?
The cold of the kitchen is bare.

I hear the gentle laughter, soft
against the silence of the wind
Wind, take me with you now
The silence of the kitchen is forever.

  --Áine ní Ghlinn (1955- ) in Sruth na Maoile: Modern Gaelic Poetry From Scotland and Ireland (1993)

Sa Chistin

I gCuimhne Robbie

Cloisim an tsluasaid lom
meascaithe le gáire na gréine
A ghrian, cá raghad anois?
Tá teas na cistine fuar.

Braithim an lámh a bhí im láimh
an traein caite sa chúinne
A traein, cá raghair anois?
Tá fuacht na cistine lom.

Cloisim an gáire séimh
meascaithe le ciúnas na gaoithe
A ghaoth, beir leat anois mé
Tá tost na cistine buan.


Kübler-Ross: The reality is that you will grieve forever

LetIdeasCompeteFlickr

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not "get over" the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.

  --Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004), with David Kessler (1959- ). If you know the source of this quotation, could you send it to me?


From One Second to the Next: A shooting star

Snowpeak-JohnFowler-Flickr

I would like to think that my Dad is somewhere in the universe. I go outside at night and sit on my balcony when I'm really upset. I stare at the sky, and whenever I'm super upset, I always see... a shooting star. And I like to think that that's my way... my Dad's way... of trying to communicate with me. I felt that my Dad would not have wanted me to be mad at him for the rest of my life... my Dad would have forgiven him. I knew that, and he would want me to try and move on, and forgive him, and even... get to know him.

  --Megan O'Dell, remembering her father, a scientist, who was killed together with a colleague by a young man who was texting as he drove. She later befriended the devastated man, and they both appear in "From One Second to the Next," a public service documentary about deaths caused by drivers who were texting, made by famous film director Werner Herzog. You can see the movie online.


Fiona Apple: Appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time

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Singer Fiona Apple and Janet

Singer Fiona Apple has canceled her scheduled tour of South America to take care of her belovèd dog, Janet, in the pet's last days. She wrote this letter to her fans explaining why.

I have a dog, Janet, and she's been ill for about 2 years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She's almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then — an adult, officially — and she was my kid.

She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.

She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.

She's almost 14 and I've never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She's a pacifist.

Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We've lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it's always really been just the two of us.

She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.

She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me, all the time we recorded the last album.

The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she's used to me being gone for a few weeks, every 6 or 7 years.

She has Addison's Disease, which makes it more dangerous for her to travel, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.

Despite all this, she's effortlessly joyful & playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She is my best friend, and my mother, and my daughter, my benefactor, and she's the one who taught me what love is.

I can't come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.

She doesn't even want to go for walks anymore.

I know that she's not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That's why they are so much more present than people.

But I know she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything. She'll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.

I just can't leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I'm afraid she'll die and I won't have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.

Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes just to decide what socks to wear to bed.

But this decision is instant.

These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love & friendship.

I am the woman who stays home, baking Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable & comforted & safe & important.

Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life that keeps us feeling terrified & alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments.

I need to do my damnedest, to be there for that.

Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known.

When she dies.

So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and I am revelling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I'm asking for your blessing.

I'll be seeing you.

Love,

Fiona


Tegnér: There is no heart to be found in my breast

Debaird-flickr

How long, how endless is each throb of pain!
O my heart, eaten up, bled white!

My heart? There is no heart to be found in my breast,
only an urn with life's ashes.

    --Esaias Tegnér (1782-1846), Swedish poet, in his poem "Mjältsjukan."

Hur lång, hur ändlös är vart pulsslags smärta!
O, mitt förtärda, mitt förblödda hjärta!

Mitt hjärta? I mitt bröst finns intet hjärta,
en urna blott med livets aska i.