~by Hermann Hesse
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
Tommy died on May 5, the day I posted my shots of a double rainbow. I have been in a place of inner silence since learning on May 13 that he is gone.
He was the boy I wrote about having fought over with a girl on the schoolyard in third grade. Later that year he was injured during recess and fled into the school bleeding (was he crying? I don't think so). I loved him so that I followed him and, seeing drops of his blood in a trail along the hallway, I yanked paper towels from the girls bathroom and began wiping up his blood from the old-growth hardwood floor. A teacher, looking quite puzzled and repulsed, demanded that I stop.
We were friends for so long. The summer after graduating high school we had our first and only date. It was a drive up to Lake Tahoe and we may have had a meal.....I don't remember. What I do remember is holding his hand as he drove and talking about who we each had become since grammar school. I think we each had that 18-year-old sensation that time was passing quickly now and we felt a need to tidy up loose ends, make sense of youth, take the day to dream of our futures. The friend vibe between us, so firmly established, precluded romance from blooming. As I paused to think about that last sentence my eyes filled with tears because there are no regrets--only gratitude--that we trusted in the beauty of our friendship.
The photo here is us at our 20th high school reunion, twenty years ago. His wife took the shot with their young ones nearby. She and I exchanged Christmas cards for some years afterward, but in the days before email and online social networking it was easy to simply drift apart from friends. We never thought it was farewell.......until it suddenly was.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-TALK (8255)
selected translation of Hesse poem from this site