Remembering & Grappling with Loss

Photo by Josiah Farrow on

We found out this afternoon that our beloved neighbor passed away. On a day when we Americans remember the lives lost as a result of what took place on 9/11/01, the sudden loss of our neighbor reminded me of the fragility of life and the need to savor every interaction I have with those I love. My wife and children had spoken to Dick just a few days ago; I, sadly, didn’t have a chance to speak to him recently. That’s what I grieve the most: the not being able to have that last conversation, being able to tell him how much I appreciated having him as a neighbor, like the grandfather next door.

For us, it is a loss. For Dick, it is all gain: a reunion with his wife and his first face-to-face with Jesus. We grieve; he rejoices. Life for us goes on in this temporal state; Dick has just begun to taste eternity.

The house next door is deserted tonight. This reminded me of a wonderful poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, my favorite British author, who also penned In Memoriam A. H. H., in which these beautiful words are found: “Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all.” This is where we rest today: grateful that we have loved, and saddened by our loss – a fresh reminder to live each day more deliberately.

The Deserted House – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Life and Thought have gone away
Side by side,
Leaving door and windows wide.
Careless tenants they!

All within is dark as night:
In the windows is no light;
And no murmur at the door,
So frequent on its hinge before.

Close the door; the shutters close;
Or through the windows we shall see
The nakedness and vacancy
Of the dark deserted house.

Come away: no more of mirth
Is here or merry-making sound.
The house was builded of the earth,
And shall fall again to ground.

Come away: for Life and Thought
Here no longer dwell;
But in a city glorious -
A great and distant city - have bought
A mansion incorruptible.
Would they could have stayed with us!

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