Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Memorium: ready, heart, for parting

~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



Roxana said...

oh Lydia -

i am with you, i don't know what to say, what can be said

i am with you, holding you

francessa said...

Dear HS, that's so sad news, but your friends here think of you and are with you.

Thanks for the beautiful story of your friendship, your memories and that lovely photo. These are treasures you will always have.

distracted by shiny objects said...

"...but when I reach across the galaxy, and I will someday, I will miss your company..."
(Ricki Lee Jones)

Owen said...

It's hard to type with a lump the size of Manhattan in one's throat...

The Hesse poem is simply beautiful, and though I've read alot of Hesse, I hadn't seen this before.

The photo of the two of you is shining, shining radiance of friendship. I won't try to say anything philosophical, but my heart goes out to you, to wish you strength in mourning.

English Rider said...

A fine tribute to a deep and enduring friendship.

Lydia said...

Roxana~ I felt being held and I thank you. xo

francessa~ Thank you for your words and for being my HS. xo

Distracted~ Thank you for the wonderful quote by Ricki Lee Jones. xo

Owen~ I appreciate your comment and, yes, we've found a new-to-us Hesse work. xo

English Rider~ Thank you so much. xo

Rhiannon said...

ah...sigh..I am so sorry of your loss Lydia. Your story with this young man seemed a very vivid memory you never forgot...cherish them always. I've not been to one H.S. reunion and I feel blessed that I never attended any "so far"...because all the news I ever got from the people I knew that went is that "so and so" died of drug overdoes, so an so died of AIDS, so and so died of addiction and liver shot...and so and so murdered someone and then got shot by the police. So I won't go there.

Your memories are good ones..hold onto them to keep your dear friends memory alive in your heart.

I talked to my sister when she arrived her on the phone today. It was rather strange. We both kind of went "wow" and "Sigh" like..I felt as if in twilight zone. Tomorrow I will go to where she's staying to bring her some clothes (she hardly has anything) and dishes and such that I have been saving for her. I am trying to go bravely into the unknown and I know she will be doing the same with me.

I will keep you posted.

Again sorry for your loss and I know how these things affect us..I wish I could cry though I can't anymore...but hope that you still can.

Love always,


Lydia said...

Rhi~ Thank you for this expression of friendship. I also appreciate the update on your sis moving nearby (so far, very good).

Rachael said...


What a beautiful reflection upon your childhood memories and a beautiful photo and poem to pay tribute to your friendship. I hope that you'll allow yourself the time you need to reflect. What helps me to maintain my perspective when I'm hurting (from loss, change, or otherwise) is the poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann. I'll pass it along to you in hopes that maybe it will bring you some inner peace to accompany your inner silence. Here's the link:

Be well and know that I'm thinking of you,


Kim said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

What a lovely tribute Lydia! Hugs.

Looking to the Stars said...

Lydia, I am so sorry for your loss.
The poem is beautiful, what a wonderful tribute you have done for your friend.

I have always thought of people as flowers in the garden of my heart. Even when one of them are no longer with me, they are in the garden of my heart.

Take care, dear one :)

Anonymous said...

You have a award in my blog:)

secret, fragile skies said...

I am sorry for your loss - the poem, this line: Be ready, heart, for parting - exquisite.

Lydia said...

Rachael~ Thank you so much for writing sweet comments, and for reminding me of Desiderata. I once had a b&w photo-poster of a person walking alone down a street at night with those words; it hung above my bed all through high school...xo

Kim~ I so appreciate your being here.xo

Phivos~ Thank you for the hugs. xo

Looking to the Stars~ Such a sweet thought, that garden of your heart...xo

Kata~ Thank you, my new friend. xo

secret, fragile skies~ It is exquisite, I agree, and memorable. So nice to have a comment from you. xo

Lisa Allender said...

Lydia--Hi there, sweetie.
I am so very sorry.
I was so moved, seeing you post Herman Hesse(I'm currently reading him!).
Very shocking to see the "Suicide Prevention" number.But very important to do, listing that, Lydia... I know sooo many people who are suffering from depression.
We are, in this blogosphere, helping to lift-up one another.
I hope you know how fortunate--and how grateful we all feel-- having YOU, Lydia.
Your friend was lucky to have known you, Lydia.

Lydia said...

Lisa~ I just added the link to the Suicide Prevention Hotline on the day you read and commented on this post. Prior to that I had only fears that were confirmed Tuesday morning. It has been one of the worse days I've endured in my life. So I thank you for being here. Wonderful that you are currently reading Hesse...

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

lydia - my thoughts are with you and Tommy's family. It may sound a cliche but one of the important thing about the way we live is the impact that we leave behind and it seems from your post that Tommy's impact was a positive one

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Thank you for your kind comments that never seem cliche.

the watercats said...

this is such a poignant post.. time is a truly scary thing, when we notice it passing, the day we notice it's passing, from that moment it only ever speeds.. and speeds.. my heart aches for all those lost moments, everyone's lost moments.. x

Lydia said...

the watercats~ Thank you for your special insights into the passage of time. My heart aches too. xo

Indigo said...

I can see in my mind's eye the little girl who saw, blood spilt along the floorboards from someone she cared about. I see that same childlike innocence in these words of the woman you are. This loss wounds you, in memory and these past days.

The only way someone can wound you, is if they meant something to you, something mighty that quickens the heart in rememberance. I think this freindship was mighty indeed.

I'm so sorry for this loss, this sorrow. You're in my thoughts dear friend always.

Ndinombethe - "Where I go, I am wearing you."


Lydia said...

Indigo~ "...something mighty that quickens the heart in rememberance." That is SO beautiful. Wow. Thank you. xo

Terresa said...

My eyes fill with reading this post.

I am so sorry. But what a dear friendship you had, you were a blessing in his life, I can tell through this heartfelt post.

PS: Thank you for posting a link to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Lydia said...

Terresa~ I so appreciate your coming over and commenting after I left my message following your amazing poem.



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