People have been sending so many lovely messages, cards and poems to our family. It's hard to read them without crying, and harder to answer them in any sensible fashion - thank you doesn't seem to be enough sometimes. It feels like it gets worn out after you say it 20 times.
But thank you - I know I speak for our whole family here. Thanks for friends, thanks for family - and thanks everyone who has sent support and messages. And mostly, thanks for being there.
This is from a friend in Portugal - a beautiful poem. I wish I had the strength to read it at Dad's funeral, but I know I won't. So I'll just post it here instead.
"There is no death! The stars go down
To rise upon some other shore,
And bright in heaven's jewelled crown
They shine forevermore.
There is no death! The forest leaves
Convert to life the viewless air;
The rocks disorganize to feed
The hungry moss they bear.
There is no death! The dust we tread
Shall change, beneath the summer showers
To golden grain, or mellowed fruit,
Or rainbow-tinted flowers.
There is no death! The leaves may fall,
And flowers may fade and pass away--
They only wait, through wintry hours,
The warm, sweet breath of May.
There is no death! The choicest gifts
That heaven hath kindly lent to earth
Are ever first to seek again
The country of their birth.
And all things that for growth or joy
Are worthy of our love or care,
Whose loss has left us desolate,
Are safely garnered there.
Though life becomes a desert waste,
We know it's fairest, sweetest flowers,
Transplanted into Paradise,
Adorn immortal bowers.
The voice of birdlike melody
That we have missed and mourned so long,
Now mingles with the angel choir
In everlasting song.
There is no death! Although we grieve
When beautiful, familiar forms
That we have learned to love are torn
From our embracing arms--
Although with bowed and breaking heart,
With sable garb and silent tread,
We bear their senseless dust to rest,
And say that they are "dead,"
They are not dead! They have but passed
Beyond the mists that blind us here
Into the new and larger life
Of that serener sphere.
They have but dropped their robe of clay
To put their shining raiment on;
They have not wandered far away--
They are not "lost nor "gone."
Though disenthralled and glorified
They still are here and love us yet;
The dear ones they have left behind
They never can forget.
And sometimes, when our hearts grow faint
Amid temptations fierce and deep,
Or when the wildly raging waves
Of grief or passion sweep,
We feel upon our fevered brow
Their gentle touch, their breath of balm;
Their arms enfold us, and our hearts
Grow comforted and calm.
And ever near us, though unseen,
The dear, immortal spirits tread--
For all the boundless universe
Is Life--there are no dead!"
- John Luckey McCreery