In many ways I wish I could address each of you by name since these are more personal posts, but since that is not, at the moment, possible, I will affectionately call you “readers”. I guess by definition you could call me “writer”. How about we call or at least refer to each other as friend.
Thus: Dear Friends,
Those of you who have chosen to embrace these posts on a regular basis, I thank you. This week, with your indulgence, most of the posts will deal with my son Lee who died nine years ago this week of brain cancer. He was 31 at the time and struggled with the disease for nearly five years before he succumbed on September 28th, 1999.
A few years after his death, his wife Kelly sent my wife Ann and me a box filled with mementos that were important to Lee when he was alive. He kept them on a meditation altar in his home. These were collections of his traveler’s artifacts and talismans of hopeful belief as well as trinkets of happy moments. I believe that all souls who see their eminent ending through a terminal disease tend to collect the minutia of meaningful reminders so that their passing is permissible to their life’s sustaining mind.
After the transition from life to life, those of us left behind grab onto whatever is left of the departing loved one and keep it safe for our own catalyst of understanding and use it as a balm to ease the natural ache of loss.
Since poetry is one of my ways of coping with the immensity of losing a child, I wrote the following after receiving the box of Lee’s artifacts. It is the first time this poem is published.
© Rolland G. Smith 2003
Your precious items held long past
Their useful time and memory cast
Became the icons of our life
To mark the sacred of your strife.
What do we do with what you held dear
That now are ours? A souvenir?
Of what? Not in your body’s place
Nor of the warmth of life’s embrace.
There’s shells and sand from everywhere
And angel cards and stones as prayer.
There’s shirts and scarfs and statuettes,
A gathering of amulets.
But though we cannot see you here
There’s knowing you are always near.
We honor you, your life and things
Despite the sadness passage brings.
Tomorrow more Letters to Lee.