Thursday, April 9, 2015

An homage to Elias Amidon. And Duncan too.

This year has really been my year to declutter, reorganize, simplify, and just make life more honest and clean. It started with cleaning out my garage and I had no idea where it would lead me… I quickly began to realize that it isn’t just about releasing the stuff I had put away for a rainy day, or the clothes that I never would wear again, or my receipts from the early 1980s. I led me to look at what needed to be cleared out of the far reaches of my mind.  You know… those little niggling things that you don’t realize are there, but at the same time, you know they are taking up space.

One of those pieces was around the eulogy I gave at my son Duncan’s Celebration of Life. Here I am over seven years later, and I still regretted that I hadn’t given credit to the man who wrote the poem that I read that day. His words gave such comfort to me, and I had searched high and low on the internet to find them again, to find his name, so I could at least silently thank him.

And then, lo and behold, I was asked last week to send my favourite poem to a friend who was collecting poetry and I knew I wanted to find this one. It had never occurred to me that I might have, way back then, emailed myself with the gist of what I wanted to say at his service. My meditation teacher had sent the poem to me… why didn’t I ask her for it?  She would have known his name… I went back to my January 2008 emails and I found a rough draft and there was the poem. And the poet’s name. I now could thank him publicly for the comfort and understanding he gave me.  That’s what I’m doing here…

Thank you Elias for your incredible ability to articulate what it most surely was like for Duncan. I am humbled by your words and full of gratitude for what you helped me understand and express that day.

Here is the draft that I found. It is not in its entirety but I wanted to give Elias’ beautiful words some context, should he ever happen upon this post.

No one knows how long we are going to be here.  Certainly Al, Sean, and I, and of course all of you had no idea how short Duncan’s life was to be. Often when someone dies, we regret not having said I love you enough times.  We regret not having said I’m sorry for something we had done.  We regret not doing more things together.  If I were to let myself succumb to those kinds of thoughts and feelings, Duncan’s passing would have been for nothing and I wouldn’t have been able to bear it.  Instead, I have been able to draw on the love from my son Sean, Al and his family, my family, and all of you.  And Duncan.

If I were to try and tell you all the highlights of Duncan’s life, we would be here for hours.  Instead, I want to tell you about some of the things that happened during the last month of his life.  He visited practically all his relatives back East at Christmas.  He had a ski day with his dad.  The last time I saw him in person, Al, Sean, and I all played music with him.  It was the first time that had happened.  He even sang in front of me.  Something he said he could never do.  The day before he died, he skied with Sean and friends.  Then he went to work for a while (and we all know how much he loved his work), and then off to a party with many of his close friends.  He came home and went to sleep.  I’d like to read a poem that helps me understand what happened next.

You waited until you were alone.
Death is a private thing.
You knew your last act was to a different audience.

As it entered you – oh how you must have danced!
Curving toward God, elegant, and alone.
Dear one, what is it like?
Tell us!  What is death?

Birth, you say, your voice swathed in wings.
I am born in the endless beginning, I am not.  I am.

You start turning into us, we who love you.
You weep in our sadness, you laugh when we do,
You greet each moment fresh, when we do.

So may your gift of loving enter our own and be with us that way, forever.

We are all grieving the loss of our beautiful Duncan.   But I don’t believe that I will never see him again.  I have already seen him.  Have you noticed…

And then I went on to talk about the amount of snow that had fallen since he had passed (Duncan was an avid skier) and I then followed my impulse to sing Amazing Grace to my boy. It was like I sang him to sleep. I cannot tell you how real and completely immersed in the “peace that surpasses all understanding” I was in that moment.

Thank you Elias. Thank you Duncan. You have both helped me open up space for the wonder that is yet to come.

Branded by gratitude,

Authentically yours,


P.S.  This song needs no introduction. It simply is...