Too Beautiful

I came across this on Facebook and thought it was just too beautiful not to share. If any of my loved ones sees this, I’d love it read at any memorial service that’s held when I die. (Sorry it’s in a smaller font.)

“Every once in a while, a poem or song is so well constructed, so clearly conveys the author’s meaning and is so precisely expressive that it becomes something of an anthem. The poem below, Epitaph, was written by Merrit Malloy and as one of those poems, has become a staple of funeral and memorial services…for good reason.”

Epitaph – By Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Raising a Glass

Last night I poured myself a Guinness and toasted the memory of my dear friend, Julie.

Smart, funny, caring Julie. She embodied love and laughter, and she lived a beautiful, yet all too brief, life, leaving this world on Saturday morning at the age of 63.

Not long after Studly Doright and I moved to Tallahassee, I went to work part time for an educational research group at Florida State University. My job was to implement lessons designed by educational researchers and at the end of the year, administer diagnostic tests to children at several local elementary schools.

At one of these schools I was working in a room with this woman who just had a way about her. She wore flowy dresses and always had a smile. The children in her groups adored her, and she never had to raise her voice. They just wanted to make Miss Julie happy. Heck, after awhile we ALL just wanted to make Miss Julie happy.

Julie and I became friends. Occasionally she’d come out to Doright Manor, and we’d walk and talk. Her stories were fascinating. She and her very British mum had once lived in Alaska and owned a tea room there. She knew all sorts of interesting people and cultivated great friendships with folks from all walks of life.

After I stopped working for the research group, Julie and I saw each other less often, but we kept in touch via Facebook and text. She invited me along to movies and concerts and we had lunch together several times. I always knew she was “right there” if I needed a friend, and I hope she knew that about me, too.

Julie was the kind of person who’d drop everything and take off cross country to care for an ailing friend. The kind of person who’d show up to listen to a friend (me) tell one of my silly stories in a public venue, and laugh louder than anyone. And oh, what a lovely laugh!

Julie was the kind of person whose door was always open and whose heart was filled with love for people and the planet. I’d never really known a true earth mother until I met Julie, and I’m so much richer for having had her in my life.

Our very last conversation was on Facebook on Friday evening, the night before she died. We’d both gone to see “Yesterday,” at different theaters and discussed it briefly. I wish I’d kept the conversation going into the night and through the next day. Maybe we could’ve made it past the episode that claimed her life.

And the last thing of mine she shared on Facebook? I cried fresh tears when I read it.

Let me assure you, even though she didn’t make it to 65, Julie didn’t take anything for granted. She lived with her entire heart and soul. And I know that all who knew her were enriched by the relationship.

So Julie, this is for you. May your spirit rest in beauty and peace.

Love,

Leslie

I’m Really Pissed Off at Death

I’ve railed at the heavens,

Cursed and cried,

Tried to rip out that cold, grey stone that’s lodged itself between my fourth and fifth ribs.

When confronted, Death shrugged and smiled a sad smile,

Like, “What did you expect? You know I’m at the end of every rainbow, the finale to every concert, the resolution of every song.”

So I hauled off and punched him. Right in his smug face.

He acted as if it hurt him more than he’d hurt me.

Part of me appreciated that, but I’m still pissed.

And so very sad.

In the past week I’ve lost three friends–two from my childhood and one I’ve known only a precious few years. Death can go suck eggs. This rant is for Mike, McArthur, and Julie.

Random Questions and Observations

  • I finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody on Sunday afternoon. I’m still singing in my head.
  • Some people should not be allowed to drive. Yep, dude in the black Beemer tailgating my new car, I’m talking to you. #%?!*#%
  • I’m already tired of wrapping gifts, and I’m not even halfway done.
  • How can two seemingly identical bras, in the same size, from the same shop, fit so differently? #BuyersRemorse #RightBoobSquashed #BreathingNotOptional
  • Great football this past weekend. #HowAboutThemCowboys
  • My Apple Watch is something of a bully. I’ll get up when I damned well please! Okay, now is good.
  • I like bullet points.
  • Sometimes so-called “relaxation” music is anything but. Listen, if you want me to relax, don’t put any sudden changes in the track.
  • Bradley Cooper is hot.
  • If you’re still reading, you’ll know I really had nothing much to say today. Thanks for hanging in there.
  • I always wanted a tumbleweed Christmas tree.
  • There aren’t any tumbleweeds in Florida, as far as I know.
  • Jenna Bush Hagar seems like such a sweet young woman. #TodayShow
  • When I die, will someone take my ashes on a cross country train ride?
  • I’m not on the shortlist for Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Again.
  • Did I mention how much I loved Bohemian Rhapsody? And bullet points?

Grave Matters

Photography by Julie Powell

If in death I succumb to the depths of a cold, dark grave, my dear,

Heart stalled permanently; no sights to see, nor sounds to hear,

Then why waste time on costly coffin accoutrement?

My nakedness will not offend worms in search of nutrients.

Why sing songs, most mournful dirges to send me on my way?

Just close the lid and lock it tight against the light of day.

Better still to light a pyre, or set adrift in Viking ship

Burning boldly through the night, ashes sifting, soul adrift.

Note: Look for more of Julie Powell’s photography at juliepowell2014.wordpress.com

A Week of Loss

Earlier this week my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, called to let us know that her beloved brother-in-law, our Uncle Junior, had passed away. Junior was one of the best men I ever met. He always had a smile and a story to tell. Every Sunday he’d call Saint Helen and they’d share their week’s adventures. Even in his last years Junior would be out on his large property in Oklahoma tending to chores that would be daunting to much younger men. He was quite a man.

I also lost a friend I met in a Facebook group of political progressives, and while we never met face to face, Thom’s death hit me hard. He was a retired Methodist minister who lived a life of service to others. His heart was huge and his sense of humor kept us all on our toes. He shared his beautifully written prayers with us along with his calming and deep wisdom. Even in his last days he was posting puns on Facebook to cheer us up. The world has lost a great man.

Then just this morning I learned that a friend from my hometown was hit by a car and killed. I hadn’t seen Roy in years, but he was like a big brother to me when I was in high school. He had a big personality and an even bigger heart. I’m so sad for his family and for all who knew him. Another good guy gone.

Life is short. Hug your loved ones, cherish your friends.

Peace, people.

Don’t

Don’t

Don’t be shocked by another school shooting, the eleventh in this brand new year.

Don’t tell me we are better than this; obviously, we are not.

Don’t send up thoughts and prayers. God honors action, not weepy hand-wringing.

Don’t try to console me; your words are empty.

Don’t tell me you are pro-life when clearly you support the industry of death.

Don’t.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2018-01-23/governor-1-dead-many-wounded-in-kentucky-school-shooting

Under a Cloud

Lately I feel like I’m living under a cloud. Not a happy, fluffy cloud, but not a threatening one, either. Just a cloud.

Well, that one is a little too cute, and vaguely resembles a politician, but you get my drift.

Am I depressed? Maybe. Fall is always a tough time for me. My mom passed away on a beautiful fall day 22 years ago, and since her death I view the season with mixed emotions. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, but some days, like this one, it’s difficult to muster the energy to get out of bed.

Thank goodness I have some upcoming events to prepare for, forcing me to get a move on, otherwise I’d burrow beneath my covers and perhaps never emerge again. That’s pretty pitiful, am I right?

I know this all will pass. Today just seems very hard–and it’s only 7:30 a.m. Thanks for reading. Some days writing this blog is my motivation to participate in life. Now go away little cloud.

Peace people.

Casting Stones

Will you enter this long sleep with clear conscience, exalted by your good works, camouflaged by your religion?

If you expect pointed fingers to catch you out, they won’t be mine. I’ve hurt my share of people, filled my own bucket with

The dregs of guilt and regret. If anything I will be the one to offer reconciliation, but without the artifice of narrow beliefs.

Think now on those you’ve wronged, those whose affections you’ve betrayed, while anyone without sin casts the first stones.

Guns in Church

Will we take our guns to church now?

Jesus take the wheel, but leave me my pistol

Dylan Roof opened fire in a South Carolina prayer meeting

Now more dead occupy the pews in Texas

Just wondering which firearm goes best with Psalms.

Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,

For I am armed with a semi-automatic weapon.

No doubt lawmakers will offer meaningless thoughts and prayers

Their mantra sounding weaker by the hour

Who will answer for these deaths?

Who will offer a solution?