In the last few months several people I know have been affected by cancer and have died as a result, or are still battling against it. As a result I have been reminded of my own mortality as in the famous poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Margaret, are you grievingWhen my father died I saw his body in the mortuary. It was cold and lifeless yet my abiding memory of seeing him in this state was of a soul that had flown: the essential him was no longer there, yet I felt the real dad was not gone forever, but somehow released like a butterfly on the wing. My little grandson, just 4 years old, talks about us going back into the universe. Dust to dust? Who knows.
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.