Friday, May 15, 2009

No stories today.

Yesterday, my daughter and I did one of the things you hope you'll never have to do. We went to the funeral of a very special teenager. She really was a girl who, as the order of service simply said, was 'so brave, so loving and so loved.'

Although I think reading this line brought tears to everyone's eyes, it was the almost tangible and overwhelming feeling of love everywhere that somehow made the day bearable. The family were extraordinarily generous in both offering and accepting love too, and I think everyone was humbled by how they allowed us all to share their grief, but it's left me out of words. Instead I've been reading, turning in particular to Mary Oliver who always seems to know how to say things better.

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your own wild and precious life?


Kathryn said...

What a beautiful poem. x

Joanna said...

Sarah - my heart goes out to you, this is something we have done too often, and my daughter, like yours, is grieving for a recently-lost friend. The pain we feel for young friends is acute, which makes one too aware of how unimaginably hard it is for families who have lost a teenager.

I don't know the work of Mary Oliver, this poem is a lovely evocation of living in the moment, which is all you can usefully do

Thanks for sharing

SueG said...

Oh God, how awful. There is nothing I, or any one can say, although Mary Oliver comes the closest. xo

Nik Perring said...

As Sue's said, really there's nothing anyone can say. Very sad, but I'm glad to hear that the sharing of love helped. And that is a terrific poem.


Catherine said...

It's the worst thing, the funeral of a young person. All that potential, unfulfilled, and the awful loss for family and friends.
Thanks for posting the poem, Sarah, typically generous and thoughtful of you - it made me stop, think, offer thanks. xxx

Douglas Bruton said...

Sorry to hear this, Sarah.


jem said...

I've been to a few of those too - as you say, something none of us should have to. But good to remember with love.

Marianne said...

The Summer Day is such a beautiful and profoundly wise poem to turn to at times of terrible loss. Mary Oliver does know how to say things beautifully - but your post was also beautiful and wise. There is great loss where there has been great love and I believe we have to hold on to that love so that we don't get too scared to love. May the peace of a grasshopper on a summers day be with you.

Sarah Salway said...

Thank you all for these comments. I wondered whether to post anything, but I'm glad I did now. And yes, a beautiful poem.

Tania Hershman said...

So sorry to hear this. Beautiful poem.