Perspective

Mourning a Lost Future

When you’ve lived more than a half century, you find that you’ve attended many funerals along the way. Over that time I’ve listened to many eulogies and shed many tears over the death of friends and family. Out of all of those eulogies, one in particular has stuck with me.

Years ago I went to a memorial service a coworker held for his wife. After a long illness, his wife finally succumbed to her disease. I will never forget the eulogy he delivered for the woman he dearly loved and missed. He said that he grieved the loss of her, particularly their future as a couple. He explained how he would miss her companionship and all the future time together that will never be. He shared about the good times they had together and how there would be no more days spent with her. He brought the whole room to tears.

But then he pivoted his remarks to point us to the past and what it held for all of us. “It’s hard to look back and be grateful for what we did have; to be content with the years we had together,” he said. “I wanted more time together; so much more time. I will always want more, but I am so grateful for what we did have and forever grateful for that.”

These are the words that have stuck with me. It seems I always want more out of life, but can I be content with what I have instead of looking at what I don’t have and what the future might bring? Can I be content with this moment — content with making the most of this moment; content with this day and what it brings? It seems natural to want more out of life, but perhaps appreciating what we have already is enough. It is something I’m still working on years later.

Poems · The Next Half Century

The Distant Ring of Hope

So many fallen

An invisible force

Young and old

Taken from us

No family nearby

Last breathe taken

Loved ones mourn

Out of reach

Death takes its toll

Virus or not

They die without

human touch

Everyday life

Under attack

Locked within

Personal space

Familiar faces

On a screen

Close at hand

Yet so far away

Trees turn green

Thunder claps loud

Spring flowers bloom

Time presses on

Yet memories remain

Of this mournful time

Solemn faces

Upon our minds

Unseen enemy

Still lurks out there

Distant scared faces

Hidden behind masks

Faded thoughts

Of earlier times

Embracing loved ones

Laughing together

Can we ever return

To that innocent time

Of warm embraces

Unhindered social times

In the silent streets

The barren rooms

The empty halls

I hear a distant sound

In this horrific time

This historic time

I still hear the ring

From bells of hope

© 2020 CGThelen

This poem was written as I reflected on the U.S. reaching nearly 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.