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!