Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The View from the Bridge

Last night I spent a few minutes inside of a place I had not been for 28 1/2 years. When I was a boy of 14, my father died. The wake/viewing was held at the Hillsborough Funeral Home. Last night - as a man of 42 - I stepped through the front door of that building for the first time since leaving it with my father's casket many, many Junes ago. The sad occasion of my return engagement was to pay my respects to an old friend, Jeff Friedlander, on the death of his dad George.

Mr. Friedlander came dangerously close last night to causing the good folks from the Home to run askew of the local fire department's ordinances for building capacity. People came pouring in like the sea to say our goodbyes to him and to provide solace, sympathy and love to Jeff and his family. My own recollection of my time spent inside of the Home all those years ago was that I left at day's end numbed by the whole experience. I think regardless of the age that you are when you lose someone you love - especially someone with whom you shared a relationship such as Jeff did with his dad - the first few days after he/she dies you are at least a bit numb. Autopilot on, you do what you must to get through.

I woke up this morning thinking of Thornton Wilder and his extraordinary work The Bridge of San Luis Rey. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning. From the bridge, the view in both directions is simply spectacular.

And you can see forever.

-AK

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