(This is part of an ongoing series of highlights from past Listen to Life newsletters. Many readers and subscribers were not following when this came out. Enjoy.)
There have been a number of losses recently, deaths that came as surprises or conclusions to long battles. Reflecting on these, while considering the new movie, “The Bucket List,” I am quite aware of mortality, which reminds me of how we honor those near to us who have died. I recall this poem that I wrote for a woman to share with her colleagues about a friend who had passed away. Today, the poem seems somehow even more real.
Poem for the Dead, Poem for the Living
She asked me for a poem, perhaps some lines
Of beauty to mark the woman-friend’s life of such
Words to celebrate a life gone by
Words to say “we love you this much.”
In praising her friend’s life past in a poem
Would require words like “love” and “service”
Also words “friend” and “colleague” appear
I should pick words that don’t make her nervous
In celebrating the long-friend now past
Requires honoring life lived and loved
It probably mandates gentle reflection
And tributes to our God above
But to honor a woman whose life has past
To recognize the lives she has touched
Is to challenge all who miss her so
And ask “will you do as much?”
Will we all live like our beloved did?
Will we befriend like she did with her heart?
Will we serve those around us every day?
Will we love from the morning’s start?
We honor our friend, our neighbor, our kin
By pausing to reflect and to share
We honor her more with the things we can do
In her image of love, if we dare.
We miss our friend, our hearts ache so
When we no longer hear her laugh and voice
We can’t look back, but can look ahead
We really have little other choice
The choices we have are to live our lives full
To hold and hug and cry
To laugh and serve and love every day
Until it is our turn to rest and die
My friend asked for a poem for a friend
To express thoughts of love and beauty
We honor who has passed and those still alive
If we live genuinely and we live truly