A friend of mine, whom I met through an online support group for caregivers of cancer patients, is now struggling, along with her husband, through his final battle with disease. His kidneys are failing, and it is a matter of weeks, if not days, until he passes on.
In the course of conversation, she mentioned that she needed to prepare his obituary and just couldn't face the task - so I offered to help.
As I was drafting the obituary and reading some tributes from friends and studying the personal information my friend had sent me, I was moved to write the following poem.
I am thinking about sending it to her along with the obituary information, whether just as something she reads and discards, or as part of the service or the obituary, that's all up to her. What I want from YOU is an opinion - should I send it, or not? I can never tell if my poetry is drek or not, and this is important enough that I do not want to send her trash.
The Last Testament
When now we look at him
Pale and still
He seems no longer present
A deserted building that no longer echoes
With slamming doors and laughter
Windows shuttered and unlighted
The air empty of
The fragrance of shared feasts
But in the faces and in the marrow
Of those gathered
And those far away
Beneath the tears and trembling mouths
Are the gifts he gave.
When he was strong and well
And when he was weak and failing
The respect and love for others
That rang in every word and deed
That strength that shored him up
When lesser men would crumble
The grit to face the impossible
The grace that urged him
Not to seek comfort in his darkest hours
But to offer comfort.
When the celebration of his life
And the parting from it is complete
We will go away and cry and work
And someday laugh and play again.
But in those night moments and in the light of day
Often one of us will stop and smile and say
This was a man.