Today I attended the funeral of a friend I had in high school. Our friendship wasn't, admittedly, that deep, and we hadn't had any contact since high school was over.
To put that in context, my 10 year reunion is coming up next year, and suddenly, his is a face I won't be seeing there. This has, as these things often do, had me thinking about death and what that means and how to react to it.
I'm not so naive to think that I'm still young and invencible, but this situation is just so . . . strange. 28, ostensibly healthy, and his heart just quit. It immediately makes one remember just how fragile we are as a species. So many moving parts; so many things that can go wrong in an instant.
In such times, I always take comfort in the words of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself,
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at
the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die,
and I know it.
I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd
babe, and am not contain'd between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all
I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
Whether I had stayed in contact with him or not, having ever known him has helped shape the person I am now. He influenced me, he was a part of my life, and I of his. And I will go forth and be a part of others lives, having had the indelible mark of his life upon my own.
He, nor I, nor Walt Whitman, could ever be "contain'd between [our] hat and boots."