Chuck

Sunset, Izmir, Turkey 2019. Photo by John Palmer Gregg

It doesn’t seem odd that you’re gone from the world;
Rather, it seems impossible that the world exists, here, without you in it.
Here are these preposterous trees, plants, conducting photosynthesis
Tiny animals being born,
Children learning to read.
For some reason, major media outlets continue
To report the news, as if
Anything new could happen now
Or human history could continue to progress
Without you.

And here I stand, unmoving
Holding my breath and waiting:
We’ve been promised this hope, this
Resurrection
In denial of all appearances, contrary to all reason.
And so I stand expectant,
My child hands extended, waiting for the
Miracle to unfold.

I don’t understand why the sun has risen again today,
Why already the words and images of you
Are slipping from my mind,
While helplessly, I watch them go.
Frantic, I feel I must collect the minutiae
Of our existence: small appointment cards in my wallet,
Exchanged Facebook messages, photos all must be preserved
Before they are lost forever.
Too well I know the tricks of human memory;
While now I can still hear your voice so clearly,
The future holds no guarantees.
The stories that I tell about you in the next year
Will form the memories I carry with me to my own end.
Building pressure to get it right, to catch the gems as they fall
Finally gives way to
Insight: I hold at arms’ length the
Fear and struggle of these efforts,
Realizing that the sun rises again, not as a
Mockery of our pain, but a warm invitation to Trust-
To let go of what our minds and hearts can hold onto no longer
To thank each other, and the earth, and our Father,
for the goodness that has rained, even as it has now
Passed away.

I am not the same person that I was
When I met you four years ago-
Not by a long shot.
I came to you as a child, an adult,
Broken perhaps no more or less than most pilgrims on the journey,
But in so much pain.
You gave me something intangible, something
So elemental and profound and exquisite
That I carry with me- I carry you now in my heart.
You knew how to hold still, how to just Be;
To let me push and pull and storm around you,
Finally quieting in your stillness.
And there were days that I was so angry with you,
You said all the wrong things, you were awkward
And irrelevant, and somehow all those wrong things
Turned out to be exactly the Right things, the best things.
The healing things.
You taught me to
Embrace this beautiful, broken, messed up world
In all its grace and glory-
To believe again in miracles, in Resurrection,
An adult living with the faith of a child.

And having made peace with the sun, I realize,
That maybe the world continues to spin its trail,
The stars maintain their dance
Not in ignorance of your passing, but in quiet deference.
They knew your faith, fierce and untiring, in these mysteries we call
Love and life, play and work and rest.
And what greater homage
Than to make food, give birth, start anew, create.
I can’t remember most of your words, but I remember you said,
“I don’t want someone I love
coming back to my grave, year after year.
I want them to go out and live.”

Go out and live, I shall,
Myself and this whole crowd of witnesses
Who were blessed to have known you,
To have been breathed on by you.
Rest in peace, dear beloved.
For the light you cast out into the world
Will last far longer than our bodies, these broken vessels.
Trees will keep going, children will keep being born,
and Love will never, ever fail.

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