Last week, I was driving in my car, when one of my very wonderful friends from childhood called to tell me that one of my closest friends as a young man had died.
The remarkable thing about getting older is that you aren’t quite as shocked at my age as you would have been 10 or 20 years ago. After this news sunk in, I wrote a another friend,
"The last time I saw him was at my Uncle’s funeral. Seeing him as a 50 year old and thinking about his dad around the same age was stunning. I thought he was his dad reincarnated. When last we were together, we talked for 15 minutes, made plans to meet up later that night, but he never showed up. I had this strange feeling that he, like other people I have met, had wanted to re-invent himself, and if I was around, it was very, very hard for his re-invention to occur.
As I thought about his death, and I thought about a time that seems like a hundred years ago, when my mother took an extension college course one summer on poetry. I was probably 15 at the time. She had been forced to drop out of college during the depression, and had desperately wanted to get her degree.
And I recall today as if were a moment ago her talking to me about Tennyson’s poem “Crossing the Bar”
As I think of my friend’s death, and my life to today my theology seems to be reflected by Tennyson, I told the pretty woman that I have been seeing and my daughters to have me cremated, spread some of my ashes on Rainy Lake, some near my parents graves, and the rest with her.
“And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, ….
And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar.”
I am living in Seattle, love it here, should have come 35 years ago, but I probably looked at the globe, erroneously figured that the latitutde was a lot like International Falls, and moved South.
I grieve for my friend. I hope that he grew to be a great man, but my reality says that he still had a fair share of larceny in his soul. We are taught to not speak ill of the dead. But when I pass over, I do not want there to be any romance about me. I always thought that his death would be as the result of being caught in a cross fire between the local game game wardens and the RCMP.
The image of him with wings and a halo is not something I yet quite have my head around.