Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mourning the person unknown

There are times when my naturally empathetic nature causes me great distress. Today, I read about the passing of Leroy Sievers. He had not really made a blip on my radar until very recently as a result of something Andy Carvin said on Twitter.

This is the third time in quick succession that someone has died who was unknown to me, but highly respected, honoured, possibly even revered by people within my online circle. The other two were Randy Pausch and Lee Baber. When I read Vicki Davis's post about Lee's death, I followed a link that took me to Lee's Facebook page and discovered that she and I had 6 friends in common. Yet I didn't know her.

In every case I found myself wondering how I could not ahve known them. Good grief - look at their legacies! Did I have my head in the sand?

The grief of people I know causes echoes in my own heart and I hurt, too. I mourn these people I did not know. I feel cheated that I only found out about them when it was too late. I read about their work, the impact they had on the world around them. The deep affection they sparked in those who knew them. The energy they exuded. And I find myself feeling a sense of loss. A sadness that they are no more. Sure, they have all left a legacy. But they have also all left a hole. People who feel as if they have been torn open and plundered. People who must now contemplate a life where the word 'normal' just can't apply, because 'normal' was a paradigm in which the presence of the person now gone was a given.

At times like these, I feel as if I just want to pull you all closer and acknowledge and thank you for your presence, your influence, your contribution. You have become an inextricable part of my world view at this stage of my life.

I'd like to end this post by pointing at this series of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons - possibly the saddest thing Bill Watterson ever did, and he nailed it perfectly. Those of you who have been around me for a while will know that for me to use the strip as an analogy is neither unusual not a trivialisation. I consider Bill Watterson's work to include momentous wisdom on occasion, and it often resonates with things that run very deep in me.

I'd like to say with Calvin: Don't YOU go anywhere!



Anonymous said...

Karyn, these last few posts of yours have been very deep. You touch very profoundly some chords that strum silently. True, it is only after the people leave that we realise what beauty they brought to our existence. Only consolation is that they travel to another plane and back. Beautiful posts all. Blessings dear.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Karyn.

You have broached and recognised astutely the importance of the individual as part of humankind. You may be familiar with the words - if you are, they are not put here to insult you, but to show how deep and profound your post is over a matter of human significance. This sentiment transcends religion:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Anonymous said...

@rina Thanks for the praise. I feel I need to point out, though, that I do not believe in re-incarnation. The holy scriptures of my faith tell us that man only gets one death, after which he must face the Judgement.

@ken Ah, yes. John Donne - a tortured soul if every there was one. But he found his peace in the end. Very apt choice!