Posts Tagged 'death'



Memories

Memories

 

Fly away Sam.

Let your spirit soar and

Explore the wondrous world you once knew.

Your spirit is free,

But your memory lives in me.


Sam was a neutered male Siamese cat who once lived with us. He came to us fully grown, long and leggy, having a personality I instantly admired.

We had a female Siamese already in the house and she guarded her house with a passion. She would hiss and growl when Sam walked by and he would simply look at her as if to say “Who put their galoshes in your lemonade” and walk on. That was typical of his attitude. He ignored conflict if he had any choice about it for as long as he lived with us.

The female eventually moved with my daughter to an apartment and Sam stayed with us and he was a delight to have around. But there came a day when he was less active and wasn’t eating. The diagnosis came back: feline leukemia.

I didn’t want to let him go. His illness came at a time of transition in my own life, and this was my first real conflict with death. This was a conflict I couldn’t avoid. I tried to give him the medication and get some fluids and nutrients down him, but with less and less success. He seemed to look at me and ask “Why are you tormenting me?” He didn’t understand that I was trying to help.

We came to a point where it was obvious death would win. It was pointless to continue distressing him, so I took him to put him to rest. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I hated losing to this disease.

After we buried him, I just couldn’t let it go. All the conflict was still inside, churning through my mind. From somewhere came the small verse above and I was thankful for it. It gave me a sense of continuity, a partial victory.

Over the years, I lost track of the poem in my notes and couldn’t remember all the words until last night. In the middle of the night, I woke with all the words in my head just as I had written them so many years before. I got up and wrote them down. Why did they come back to me? I don’t know, but I felt I should share the story. Maybe someone else will identify with this story and be helped. I invite and welcome your comments. Please share.

Hal C Clark, March 2010

Memorial – OKC

Memorial – OKC

In a fragment of a moment they were gone.

Sitting, standing, smiling, stumbling, tumbling

Twisting, flying, crashing, crushing, sobbing,

Bleeding, exhaling, growing cold…, still.

So still.

Snuffed out by brutal hatred like half-burned candles

Under some cruel, hellish breath,

And nineteen tiny candles

Only briefly touched by flame.

So brief.

In the quietness of evening a broken assemblage

Of departed souls sit mute within

Glowing rows of straight glass chairs

Cascading gently down a grassy slope

So serene

With no laughing conversation, giggle, sigh

On chairs with names carefully inscribed

Sit squads of silenced soldiers

Unwillingly recruited to an obscure battle never won.

So quiet.

In this holy place, consecrated with

The spilled blood of each departed,

Visitors pause, listening, sensing the silent

Presence of kindred strangers, and pleading

For a breath from even one.

So final.

In this sacred place I breathe the air they breathed,

Just before they breathed no more

I sense the pain and ecstasy and hopes

And fears and joys they must have felt before

Being stolen from their families

So unfair.

Some, swallowed by inferno and yet

Somehow untouched, in pain still ask,

“Why them and why not me?”

They weep and pray for those who died

And promise, “I’ll always remember.”

Please remember.

Hal C Clark – Feb 2010


About Memorial – See more at http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org


The morning of Wednesday, April 19, 1995 began as a normal, bright spring morning in Oklahoma City. Then, at 9:02 a.m. a rental truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, loaded with tons of explosives shaped to bring about maximum death and destruction, exploded. One hundred forty-nine adults and nineteen children were killed in the blast, most instantaneously. Rescue efforts occupied the following week while the Nation mourned.

Several years ago, on a sunny afternoon, we visited the memorial. It occupies two city blocks and is centered around the reflecting pool which replaced Fifth Street. An American Elm, now called the survivor tree, somehow weathered the explosion, stripped of all its leaves and with several broken branches.

One lone wall of the original building remains and is inscribed with over 600 names of people who survived. On the footprint of the destroyed building is a gentle slope covered with grass and 168 metal chairs, each with a lighted glass foot. On the glass of each chair is inscribed a name of one of the dead. The nineteen children’s chairs are smaller. But for one, all of these children were in the day care center located on the second floor, immediately above the truck.

Since my visit, I have been haunted by what I saw there, and felt. The memorial involves you and brings you back to 9:02. Even though the rubble has long ago been removed, I had a sense that the echoes of those lives still remain in that place. It is library-quiet; the only sound, the trickle of water in the reflecting pool.

A chain-link fence stands at the west end, left over from the days of rescue and recovery, covered with gifts of remembrance: watches, flags, stuffed toys, necklaces, pictures, many children’s things. These are the recent gifts. The originals are archived in the museum across the street. The gifts keep coming, fifteen years after the tragic event.

I think often about that memorial. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. The above poem is an attempt to make sense of what happened there. It is so easy to love those around us, love all humankind. Hate must be labored over and fed and intensified by shutting out empathy and caring and compassion. Hatred is an anonymous beast that cannot be tamed. Why does it persist? Only God knows, but He didn’t create it.

Hal C Clark

Feb 11, 2010

Waiting

Waiting

I wait and breathe cool mountain air

Listening to porch planks creak beneath oak rockers

Deep vermillion crawls away,

Inviting diamonds into

An indigo sky.


Your image flows through

Channels of my memory,

My fingers tangled in your hair,

Your warmth pressed against me.

A smile lights up your face,

Accenting crinkles long familiar.


I press my fingers to my lips,

Point my hand skyward,

And wait for

God’s consent to join you.

Hal C. Clark

November 2006

About Waiting


As my parents grew older and approached their seventieth anniversary, I thought about which one might go first and which would best deal with the loss. My mom was devoted to my dad and he depended on her for many things, most of all for companionship. I don’t know if he depended on her for her sake or his own.

My dad died when he was ninety and my mom went on for two more years, although she admitted to us kids that she was ready to go. She just had to wait around for the right time. She loved her children, grandchildren, and great grands and looked forward to seeing them. But she didn’t have much excitement for anything else.

It’s hard to think of that time between your very overactive life and that time when you leave this world, but most of us will have to face it. The happiest of our senior citizens seem to be those who are physically able to find some useful pastime such as some way to serve others. For some, that involves family, for others, a church, for some, maybe writing.


Take some time, a few minutes a day, to honor older relatives and make them feel worthwhile. It makes everyone feel better.

Feb 10, 2010


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