So I filed my little poem away and forgot about it. I wouldn't have found it at all if not for the cleaning kick I'm still on. I thought I'd post it here since in this tiny little part of the world, I'm the editor.
I think it sums up why people read obituaries, or at least why I read them. It's not out of morbidity. It's empathy. We read the departed's name, a few facts about them, the names of who will miss them, and we think of that soul for just a moment. For that moment we connect with strangers grieving for the same person. Deep down we are hoping that when it's our obituary in the paper, a stranger will take a minute to think about us.
The obituary I read that day was for a child. Empathy is the most profound when it's because the life lost is a child's. We take a few extra moments to think about those young souls and to grieve with those families.
A STRANGER'S GOODBYE
I read about you in the paper today
Right after the story of the war far away
After I read of the murder of a mother and son
And after the story about the hit-and-run
I had already read more about ground zero
And saw the memorials to local heroes
There was a story about germ warfare
And more about the Anthrax scare
Page after page about all that is bad
Strange, but I should have felt more sad
Then it was after the announcements of births
That I read about how you left this earth
You were only thirteen, just crossing the street
You were hit and the world didn't miss a beat
They mentioned what happened in just a few lines
But when I read them I began to cry
You were just a small figure in a sea of lives
Another child un-named that needlessly died
But you were the world to those who loved you
For them the world stopped the moment they knew
What can be said to bring them comfort?
Can anything ever heal their hurt?
Perhaps the memories of you can ease the pain
Or the knowledge that now you are in God's hands
Just maybe it helps to know that others care
That the loss of your life mattered to a stranger out there
That your story, although obscure among all the rest
Was read and will be remembered the best
I'll pray for you and for those whom you loved
May God keep you in his love
That's my post for today. It's a little bit sad, but a little hopeful too. Our human emotions, whether they be sorrow, empathy, joy, or fear, connect us all and enable us to relate to each other. We may not share the same experiences, but we do share the same emotions. When we feel these things for one another we're reminded that we're not alone. Even among strangers, we're not alone.
Photo courtesy of Maggie Smith