A Sad, Sad, Sad Farewell

I am in shock that I must again interrupt this journal to say farewell to another soul who has been taken from us.  In life there are events of which we can make no sense whatever, and to lose someone like Casey who had so much to offer the world, who had such a love and joy of living, is far more than we can bear or understand.  We ask why.  Can it be merely that a dark night, a narrow road, wet weather and the coincidence of two vehicles attempting to negotiate the same curve from opposite directions conspired to change the lives of hundreds of family and friends in an instant?  It is a question I have asked many times and I despair of ever finding an answer.  Nick Perry, a young man I had the privilege of working with and mentoring, died of a heart condition 10 days before his 21st birthday.  Nick had more love of life, more compassion for others and more promise and passion in our trade of building instruments of music than anyone I have known before or since.   Then there was David Kluge, a boy of 14 in our town, who was active in sports, a high honors student and a violinist.  Sadly, David died recently in his home.  Nothing you can say, nothing I can think of gives me any confidence that I will ever comprehend these tragic losses.

Since we were not able to attend the funeral service today for Casey Irish, last evening we drove two and a half hours to the church and two and a half hours back to spend a few minutes with Casey’s family and offer what love we could.  My head says that this makes no sense.  Yet, In those moments of embrace and tears, my heart took over and time and space ceased to exist.  There is only the eternal here and now, and we cheat ourselves by thinking that there are great distances between ourselves and the ones we love.

We must remember this—that Casey has given us, and continues to give us gifts of inestimable richness.  The Irish family has the campsite next to ours on Bunganut Pond in Maine, so we see them most weekends in the summer, and  I realize that he has given me a tremendous gift—the gift of one human being to another, the gift of certainty that life is fundamentally good.  If we are alert, we see that this gift can be transmitted in as little as a fraction of a second, and in an act as simple as a casual greeting —”How are you?” —and in the sound of a voice, the twinkle of an eye, from one person to another is transferred the fullness of a huge and compassionate heart.  Every one of us is transformed by such a life, brief though it may be.

At times like this I try to put myself in the place of the one who has so suddenly and cruelly been taken from us.  I try to imagine myself as Casey looking down on the rest of us from wherever he is in the Universe, and from that vantage point I try to think of what I would want to say to those left behind and I can come up with nothing other than this:

May you all be healthy,
May you all be happy,
May you all be safe,
May you all come to realize your true nature,
____________your fundamental goodness,
_______________and have joy in your life.

But now we have the hardest work to do, for we must grieve for our loss, and as terrible as that loss is, we must face it full on.  We must not run from it or cover it up with pleasant distractions.  We must get to know that grief, make friends with it so that it will not forever rule us.  We must come to understand this heartache well enough that we can let it go, and we must be ever alert to hear that small voice from beyond that will come when we least expect it and in a form that we can least imagine.  That will be the voice of Casey, of Nick, of David and of thousands of others telling us that in the end it was all worth it – that it is all good.  That voice may be so faint as to be almost inaudible, but when we hear it we will know that it is true.  And maybe, just maybe, one day we will come to see these tragic and incomprehensible events as gateways into that Mysterious and equally incomprehensible state of indestructible joy, love and interconnectedness with all beings.  I bid everyone who reads this to pray for Casey and for all who are left to search for the strength to continue spreading the love he has shared with us.

Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.   –Eskimo Proverb

You can read more about Casey Irish here>>>

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