“In Reluctant but Abashed Hesitant Appreciation”

From “Prayer in Reluctant but Abashed Hesitant Appreciation of Death,” by Brian Doyle

“Oddly it’s not my eventual death that frightens and nags me; I have had a glorious blessed hilarious graced life, and no man was ever so slathered with love and laughter as me, and when my time to dissolve comes, I hope to remember that I was granted a long and colorful run; indeed I hope to spend eons happily reviewing the tape, minute by minute, paying even more attention to the infinitesimal details than I did the first time, and replaying the highlights again and again, driving my new roommates nuts. No: it’s the death of people I love that ravages me.”


As Krista Tippett says, we are all always just a phone call away from grief.

Yesterday, walking along the river to the reservoir deep in good conversation with a good friend, I missed the call from my brother. Upon returning to the house, I found the text messages, and called him back, and learned that my uncle — eldest son of my grandmother — who had retired in July and healthily happily hosted Thanksgiving for us this year like every year, had died that afternoon.

A loss like this makes me even more grateful for the rainout of a few weeks ago. There’s no way to be truly ready for a thing like this, but at least an earlier reprieve when we needed it is allowing my family to respond to this new need.

And, as ever, I am reminded that we are not given to know the length of our run, so the best we can do is to make it colorful — to slather and be slathered with all the love and laughter we can muster, and to hope for a decent interval between phone calls.