The hard part of living is the dying.
I’m not talking about me. I know life ends for us all. But lately the hard part of living is knowing -- and seeing -- others who are dying.
The poet John Donne spelled it out for me when I was in high school. I’ve gone back to his words many times. He wrote:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
He finishes saying:
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Understanding those words is one thing. Feeling them is another.
Like a few weeks ago … I opened the newspaper to a shock. My neighbor Paul had died.
Our friendship involved chats in driveways and waves across the yard and swapping favors. He was a good neighbor. I often would see Paul and his wife outside … always working their yard — mowing, planting, decorating for holidays -- a testament to the beauty of nature.
Now it’s strange. Like seeing a photo with a white outline of what used to be there. Paul is gone and I feel it. And I’m just a neighbor.
But that’s the point — a part of me has fallen into that sea Donne was talking about. In the last few years I’ve become a jigsaw man with many parts of me sliding off. Family. Friends.
Even as I speak there is a bell tolling. Someone has died. The news reports it every day.
Or the local paper, where I heard a bell tolling for Paul.
And as Donne says, tolling also for me.
… And thee.
I’m Lonny Cain … and that’s my Perspective.