Saturday, March 06, 2010

Happy The Man, and A Tribute

 This morning's Writer's Almanac featured this poem, which I think is fitting for this week:

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
   He who can call today his own:
   He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite or fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

-Horace, from Odes, Book III, xxix. Translation by John Dryden

My husband, Matthew, wrote this tribute to his friend Gerry, who died on Thursday after a car accident last Monday.  I wanted to share it here, as I feel it expresses well why Gerry's death has touched so many of us:

Friday, March 5, 2010 12:47 PM, PST
There were a lot of prayers this week for healing, and a lot of people lighting candles for Gerry. A lot of love focused on Gerry and his family, most especially Mandy and the kids. And yet his body died. So people with a particular perspective would say, "see, prayer doesn't work". But I differ with them about that.

There was such an intense light and love in Duke hospital this week. Most especially yesterday, our last chance to say goodbye to Gerry. I could see it on the faces of his family, a light of healing and love and grace. I think many of the visitors to the hospital came to give consolation to Mandy, but found themselves receiving so much of it from her instead. I have only seen this degree of grace and love a very few times in my life, and when I see it I am always humbled and in awe of its power. It can sometimes flow through us when we get out of the way of Spirit, out of the way of God. Sometimes in very small moments of creativity and energy and flow, and sometimes in awe-inspiri
ng ways as the visitors to Gerry's hospital suite saw this week.

I have not had the honor of spending very much time with Gerry and Mandy's extended family, but he has always conveyed to me and his other coworkers how fortunate he is to have them, and what a caring and close-knit family they are. And I know we all saw that this week if we spent even a few minutes over at Duke Hospital. I believe it is the power of prayer, and the power of love, of Gerry's own kindness to all of us, and the power of Spirit to uplift us when don't hinder it. A fitting grand finale to Gerry's life so very full of friendship with so many people everywhere.

Sometimes it is not easy to have the full perspective of just how important someone is. Until they are gone, and you feel your heart crying. . .

Countless times, Gerry would tell whoever was in the office that he was leaving, and say "I'll walk out with you if you're ready to go home". And if we were finished, we'd gladly shut down our computer and pack our bag and walk down the stairs. We didn't know why, didn't really think about why, we just did it because we wanted to. Because talking to Gerry, somehow it always made you feel good, or at least better than before. So we would go out and chat for 5 or 10 minutes about the latest project we were working on, or fish oil supplements
, or or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the latest office rumors that Gerry's unrivalled network of friends at work had passed on to him. But whatever the topic of conversation, it felt good and right to spend those last few minutes of the workday, out in the parking lot, talking to Gerry.

Look at the outpouring of support on these web pages, at the hospital, at his work, on phones, emails and instant messages going around the world. All of this speaks for itself, so loudly we all can hear it and feel it in our hearts. It is written: "By their fruits ye shall know them". Yes, indeed, Gerry, yes indeed.

y I don't think you even knew how important you were to everyone while you lived your earthly life.

Goodbye, Gerry (for a while). You really did have a wonderful life, and I am utterly grateful that I got to share 10 years of working closely with you, and all our lighthearte
d and serious conversations, and more than a few cold glasses of beer.  Godspeed, Gerry.
Matthew Cromer


Grey Horse Matters said...

A lovely tribute to a good man and a good friend.

ponymaid said...

Powerful words for a powerful man. Beautifully said.

CharlieHorse said...

I never knew Gerry, yet I feel his loss. Thank you for sharing your friend, Gerry, through your wonderful tribute.

I like to believe in angels;
I like to believe that we are not human beings
Having a spiritual experience,
But rather that we are spiritual beings
Having a human experience
And that, death is but
The launching of our spirits,
Again "trailing clouds of glory," returning
To God, who is our eternal home.
- Beth Schang

billie said...

Thanks all, and Beth, what a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Rising Rainbow said...

Sorry to hear of the losses in your lives. My wishes to all for healing.

billie said...

Thank you, MiKael, much appreciated!

Enchanted Forrest said...

Billie (and Matthew),
Such a beautiful tribute. What a wonderful friend Gerry must have been to everyone who knew him. I wish I'd had a chance to know him. I am deeply sorry.

billie said...

Thank you, Sue. One thing I have taken from this experience, which I am considering Gerry's gift to me, is that it is pure lunacy not to gather with friends and kindred spirits when we find them along the paths of our lives. We have had the plan for several years to have Gerry and his family, and another colleague of Matthew's and his family, over for an afternoon so everyone could meet donkeys and horses and then share a meal.

It's my crazy tendency to wait until "the exact right time" to do things that prevented this happening. I was always fretting about "too hot, too many flies," or "too muddy" or "too cold." And by waiting for that perfect time, I missed it.

It's something I have struggled with my entire life. I get an idea in my head of how I want something to be, and then I get stuck if I can't create it exactly that way.

I've made progress in some ways, but it's time to toss that entire way of thinking. If anything is a final wake-up call to me, this is it!