Sunday, August 7, 2011

For Dickie

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I recently read To Bless the Space Between Us, a book of blessings by one of my favorite authors, John O’Donohue. He has this way of capturing the depths of a soul, the vulnerability, the inner doubts in the midst of certainty. I wanted to share his poem On Grief in honor of my cousin, Richard Oropeza, Jr., who we loved as Dickie. Maybe you’ll resonate with some of the sentiment he expresses. It’s beautiful, honest and says the things we often feel when a loved one’s body dies:

"No one knows what has been taken from you ...
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed ... "       

I believe that we do learn acquaintance again with our loved ones whose bodies have died, a new way of loving them while we remain temporarily in physical form. This acquaintance is such a beautiful and loving gift.

A body is temporary. We are not.

I love you, Cousin Dickie. You have left your footprints on our hearts and we are forever changed.

For Grief

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure,
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

~ John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us