It is a custom in many Western and Central European cultures that, when family and close friends part company, they take a few minutes and simply gaze in solemn silence into their loved one’s face. It is as if they are memorizing every line, capturing each nuance of color and shade. As they lock into one final look, wordless volumes speak between to the eternity of the soul that shines through eyes. It offers one last snapshot of the heart, before life circumstances cause them to part.
In the last few days, I’ve received word from three friends about the suicide of someone they love. In these cases, they did not have opportunity for that one final portrait, that one last intentional gaze …
I’ve lost five friends to suicide. Though each suffered severely from a depressive or bipolar disorder, the news of their irrevocable act still came as a shock. Coping was, and is, a different and more difficult kind of loss. There is no easy way to come to closure, even though my last mental pictures of them in most cases happened to be – thankfully – of their laughter and smiles. And for the ones where that was not the picture that came to mind, I gave myself the freedom to recollect one drawn from better days.
In December, I posted the story and poem of Midnight, Advent, and Hope in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings. Today, in honor of the loved ones I have lost, and for my friends who have just lost one of theirs, I post a poem I wrote in 2001. I presented it to friends at the passing of their Mother, along with the gift of a bronze bookend of a dove in flight, enameled in brilliant hues of white with colors of fire behind.
In each of these poems and posts, it is my desire that we find a generous portion of hope in Christ to sustain us in and beyond our grief.
[© 2001 Brad Sargent]
There is a time clouds block sun’s rays
while we trudge silent with no name.
And gloom surrounds us while we long
For passion to rekindle flame.
There is a season vines do sleep
Still, life lies dormant deep inside.
And God gives His mysterious will
When “brass heavens” we think Him hide.
There is a place Christ’s dove alights
To grant us peace beyond our pain.
We’ll yet find beauty in the dusk –
Kaleidoscope colors beyond gray rains.