Today, we will attend a funeral for my husband’s beloved uncle John, affectionately known as Uncle Biggy. He and his wife, Claire, were married at 19 years old and married for 62 years. Their five children and their spouses and children will miss him every day.His death, at an old age, is how we like to think death should come. From way off in the distance, so many years in the future that we have no reason to think about it now. But then death happens, and we are left behind to ponder the enormity of our loss and the certainty of our fate.
The truth is that death, whether it is caused by illness, accidents/tragedies, or blessed old age, is not easy for us to accept. Last week, in response to Monday’s blog post about the loss of my dear friend’s father, another friend sent me an email with William Cullen Bryant’s poem, “Thanatopsis” attached. As I attend Uncle Biggy’s funeral today, I will think of the last stanza because it reminds us to focus on the only thing we can control – how we live our lives today:
So live, that when they summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain’d and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.