Monday, May 01, 2006

death of a friend

What pain darkened my heart! (Lam. 5.17). All that I saw was death. My home town was a torment to me, my home strangely cursed; all the things I had shared with him were, without him, transformed into the grievous tortures. My eyes looked expectantly for him everywhere, but he was denied to their sight. I hated everything, because it did not contain him; nor could anything now say to me, 'Look, he is coming,' as they could when he had been absent during his life. I became the object of my own investigation, and asked my soul repeatedly why it was sorrowful, and why did it trouble me so deeply; and it did not know what to say in return. And if I said, Hope in God (Ps. 42.5, 11, Ps. 43.5 [Ps. 41.6, 12, Ps. 42.5]), it would not obey, and rightly; for the friend I had lost was, though a man, a thing more real and better than illusion in which I bade my soul trust. Weeping alone was sweet to me, and took the place of my friend among the pleasures of my mind.

... For why had my former grief been able to pierce me so easily and so deeply, if not because I had, as the saying goes, 'spilt my soul on the sand' by loving a mortal as if he were immortal? What refreshed and renewed me most of all was the solace I derived from other friends, who shared my love for the things I loved most instead of you - that great myth, that long to lie which entered my mind as it itched to be tickled through my ears, and rubbed it s an adulteress strokes her lover. That myth of mine did not die if one of my friends did, and in my friends I found other pleasures, which captivated my mind even more: shared talk, shared laughter, mutual acts of kindness, the shared reading of good literature, of moments of levity and seriousness; occasional disagreements that were without ill-feeling, as a man can disagree with himself, which gave a relish to our more usual concord; teaching and learning from each other, longing impatiently for each other when absent, welcoming our absent friends with joy when they returned. Those and other such tokens, which proceed from the hearts of those who love each other and express themselves in the face, the speech, the eyes, and a thousand gestures of goodwill, are, so to speak, the kindling of the fire which melds minds together, making one out of many.

This is what we cherish in our friends, to the extent that a man's conscience feels guilty, if he does not love one who loves him in return, or love in return one who loves him, seeking nothing from his lover's body except these tokens of goodwill. This is the source of grief if someone dies; this is why we are darkened with sorrow, why sweetness is turned to bitterness, why my heart streams with tears. It is the dead who have lost their life, but the living experience death.

excerpt from Book 4, The Confessions - Augustine

Someone close is no longer around. i wish to continue to love but somehow it is not as easy to love without connection. no wonder the marriage vow goes till death do us apart.

No comments: