On Mortality

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To wrap up this week’s theme of grief, loss, and eulogies, I’m sharing a poem on mortality I wrote one year ago. I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst fever of my life, aching to my bones, certain of death — kind of like my friend’s cold sweat from yesterday’s eulogy.

_____________________________

On Mortality

 

August 29th, 2012
Midnight

I write this in shakes, shivers
and apologies
for not having warned y’all sooner.
Often in my life I have said I will die
an early death.
The Keith Green/Rich Mullins/MLK/JFK impulse waits
in us all
if we acknowledge its presence, even
still if we do not,

waiting…

And so, I have made it my point,
my only point,
the DT of my one,
my last
sermon, boys:

to live a full life.

Once I heard that we should find whatever makes us come
alive
and do that
and I found Him
and did that
and so now it leaks out
Spirit to spirit
nailpoints to fingertips.

But right now,
as this fever overtakes me,
I prepare to meet my Maker
and yet again be made-remade
shaking shattering smiles
preparing this old body to be unmade,
my soul to linger,
to wait until
That Day.

Preparations,
like Beethoven before his ninth
and last,
(not that I contracted syphilis or anything)
only that “it’s time” feels closer
sometimes
more than others.

My last will and testament, you all thought
a joke
“I leave one jar containing one fart
for Peter
for injecting humor
into my life
and grossing out
my wife”
…among other delicacies.
The will is not about
the stuff
but
the will
and ancestors who squabble over
the stuff
miss the will
thus the fart
in a jar:
I know he gets it and laughs and that’s enough.

You will not understand
but Peter will.
Peter will know that this too
is no insult to our relationship
but shared joy
in a shared past:
Will and Testimony
as much as
testament.
But the creative trust,
that was really only the true point—to
entrust this and my many
almost-published almost-masterpieces
to my friends who will know
what to do
when “the time” comes
to do what it’s
time to do.

They will know that Alex, as my
literary twin,
will be able to take my fantasy world
beyond my own making
sub-creating alongside me
as you always have—
Alex, my last gift to you—
take everything,
make it your own,
I leave you my world
for it is yours as well.
We’ve ridden her dragons tandem,
turned loose Leviathan,
and wept with the pixies
who lost their way
back to homeland.
We’ve even woven a quilt or two,
in our world’s wise old age of youth.

Colby, my last gift to you—do not make
excuses for the moment,
but the time will come when all screenplays
will emerge finished, in their due course.
Take them, take them
like
Snape’s tears,
(weeping
as I write
this).

Kiddo, my last, my only gift to you—enjoy
life, do not despair. Hope when
others see no way out, no way
through, no way to reboot
the sun.
Still hope,
for hope that is seen
in light of day
isn’t hope.
Who hopes for what he has?
I’m sorry you’re
ill as I write this,
sleeping, as I cannot care
for you more, but if I cannot
lie still
the best I can do is to get up
one last time
for you to sleep
and dream.

READ NEXT:  To Jack Across the Sea

So dream on, and
hope
when others refuse to see light
at the end of the tunnel.
I also leave you every kiss of
these missing sixty years
I died before their time, every word,
every gift, every spare moment over
playingcards, what little service
I know how to render (for your
Father was always much
better than I)—
all that could have been if this had-been had been.
Take them,
make them your own and
share my love with the whole wide world,
the love that is my Savior’s.

Kyle, my last gift to you—write.
Please write. Never stop blessing
the created world with the
Spirit’s words
through your penmanship. I could
not finish it for you, my time had
come too soon,
but there is a copy of All the Pretty Horses
with internal
interpersonal
external
conflict highlighted on every page
until it stops suddenly
like life often does
in the midst of confli—

I’ve made it
my point in these last
few months, to become not the
Paul
(as I’d once hoped)
but the
Barnabas
of writers—to encourage even
if I could have profited
or promoted my name
had I withheld the whole truth
from other creatives. Take
that as well, continue bearing that torch, for that is
better road
less travelled
and all of that nonsense
in the Wittgensteinian (non)
sense.

Andrew, ‘Goal.’
More than
this, take my songs and
in them, find no musical prowess,
but rather a refusal
to ever quit the
singing. For He put His song in all things,
and if we kill the things
that hold the song,
we kill the song,
and so ourselves.

Heath, I leave you
what integrity
has been given to me.
Study inner
holiness
and let no man
no fiend
take it.

Lauren as well. An equal portion
for you both
with this first:
no infighting.

I could go on, but
if I have not already given you all
and the rest who read this
my blessing,
then you will not
read this
anyways.

And so, on the night of my
death
it is also the night of my whole
life
for I am one of those fools
who truly believes
he will rise
and so he fears not
war
sword
public disgrace
(on his better days)
disease
famine
persecution
for an enemy-love overtook him
early
earrrrrly,
Sunday mornin’
when he realized that
He
died for
him
His enemy
when he deserved
to die,
and so the only decent thing
is to choose the moment of his death
at one moment:

that second where mine enemy
could have a second chance
so I die
even as I write the end of this poem
on mortality
for it is my death
that is the death of all worlds
that is wrapped up in the death of one man
who died for all the worlds
that death my die,
my death,
that though every living creature die alone
(according to Mr. Darko)
they now shall die together
by joining Him who died alone—
and others who die alone with Him–
a lone death
for all death:
mine.

READ NEXT:  Pane — from 58 poems written at 29

Perhaps I will sweat this fever out,
this time,
this one time,
but the one that take me too soon
will soon take me the one day too,
group me with all others—
even Him
who died too soon,
at the climax of youth
my Youth.

Here hides that blessing from
Tolkien’s writ—not that death
is no judgment
but this:

Which of God’s
judgments
are not also
gifts?

And so this gift of death
allows us to be the most
free-choosing, most
encounter-bubbling, most
death-defying creatures
living
save God himself
for we are freer
when we have less and less and less

time

to choose
and to choose from.
We spend it well
when we see them in our foreview mirrors,
those cardboard signs
whose authors and makers we feared were right,
those signs
that could burn up with the striking of
one soul match
and also
read (coincidentally)
in black
permanent:

The End is Near!

As near as mine.

monogram new

photo courtesy H Dragon‘s creative commons liscense on Flickr

Comments

comments

5 Comments

    1. Thanks bro.

      Rather gross-but-true anecdote: had to use alcohol swabs to clean off the keys in the morning. My fingers were slipping off the keys from that fever’s sweat.

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