Happy birthday, Kenneth. I miss you.

Happy birthday, Kenneth. I miss you. October 7, 2018

 

The Ribble, not far from Preston
The first Latter-day Saint baptisms in the United Kingdom were performed in the River Ribble, near Preston, Lancashire.     (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

I found President M. Russell Ballard’s talk at the beginning of today’s morning conference session profoundly significant and deeply, personally, moving.  And particularly appropriate, for me, on this very date.

 

My brother, my only sibling, would have been seventy-six years old today.  Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly in March 2012.

 

I miss him terribly.  Few days, if any, have passed since his death without my thinking of him.

 

For years, I had feared that his life might be relatively short; he was actually my half-brother, he was more than a decade older than I, and his biological father had died suddenly, shortly after he was born, at only thirty-eight.  Still, he seemed to me to be doing pretty well, and we had begun to travel together.  After years, for example, I had finally been able to introduce him to my beloved Switzerland and the Alps.  Twice.  And we were making plans for further trips.  In fact, he and his wife were scheduled to go the following June on a British Isles cruise on which I was speaking.  He would have loved it.  Like his wife (and, really, like me), he was an Anglophile.  It was a wonderful trip, taking us to places in Ireland and the United Kingdom that we had never before seen.  But, understandably, his widow backed out of the cruise — and, without my brother and his wife, it was bittersweet.

 

***

 

I share with you two hopeful poems on the subject of death — the first by Henry Scott-Holland and the second by Charles Henry Brent:

 

I.

Death is nothing at all;
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you;
whatever we were to each other
that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name;
speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow;
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we always enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me;
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort,
without the ghost of a shadow in it.
Life means all that it ever meant;
it is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.

What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval,
somewhere very near,
Just around the corner;
all is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before;
how we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again! 

 

II.

I am standing upon that foreshore,
a ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength
and I stand and watch her until, at length,
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone.”

“Gone where?”

“Gone from my sight, that’s all”,
she is just as large in mast and spar and hull
as ever she was when she left my side;
just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment
when someone at my side says,
“There! She’s gone!”
there are other eyes watching her coming
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
“Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

Yes; life is eternal and love is immortal,
and death is only an horizon.
And an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

 

Posted from Park City, Utah

 

 

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