Recently, my kids and I enjoyed a getaway respite at my sister’s home down on the farm. Moving in the midst of grief and pandemic is challenging, and we all needed a break. My sister’s acreage abuts farmland that is under conservation, preserved for generations to come just as it’s been farmed by generations before. It’s a beautiful place to rest and recharge.
As I watched the cows happily moving across the field, their babies trailing along behind, I wondered what parts of my life will be thus preserved, protected for time to come. Since Rob’s death, life has felt entirely upended, the future now feels so uncertain. In the face of death, what truly can last?
I own no land that will be passed down to generations after me. I have few possessions that bear lasting value. I am reminded of the words: “all flesh is grass.” And I realize that no attempt to preserve or protect my little life will ever be successful. If even great men and women are forgotten, surely someday I will be too.
And then, I remember Rob, my grandparents, my friend who died of cancer. Though now absent, their lives continue to bring meaning to mine. They are preserved in memory, protected in the heart from the weathering effects of time. My love for them and their love for me is forever imprinted on my heart. Outward remembrances may fade away. But love stands the test of time.
I have no gift of land to place in conservation when I die. My descendants won’t jockey for any valuable possessions. But I hope my love will be preserved forever in the hearts of those I have cared about long after I am gone. What a joy to discover that is conservation work I can start right now! I can invest in relationships, plant the seeds of remembrance by loving well today.
Today’s Poetry Friday poem comes from Anne Bronte. As you reflect on her words, consider the parts of your loved one that last after her death. What investments can you make now to offer others a loving, lasting memory of you?
by Anne Bronte
Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
O, beautiful, and full of grace!
If thou hadst never met mine eye,
I had not dreamed a living face
Could fancied charms so far outvie.
If I may ne’er behold again
That form and face so dear to me,
Nor hear thy voice, still would I fain
Preserve, for aye, their memory.
That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.
That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; —
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.
Adieu, but let me cherish, still,
The hope with which I cannot part.
Contempt may wound, and coldness chill,
But still it lingers in my heart.
And who can tell but Heaven, at last,
May answer all my thousand prayers,
And bid the future pay the past
With joy for anguish, smiles for tears?