In Memory of a Young Friend

The greatest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.

-Thornton Wilder

I am grateful for the life of Cote Laramie: kind and gentle friend, talented musician and scholar, an aspiring healer, all around beautiful soul. I wish he were here so I could thank him personally for bringing so much sunshine to the world.

[A confession: It never seemed appropriate to say so at the time, but I’m wishing I’d thrown caution to the wind and admitted to Cote that he once made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants.]

Here is a poem someone gave me many years ago when my baby nephew died. It’s about the loss of young life and I wish I could say the poem soothes me, but the truth is that these beautiful words both comfort and agitate me, in more or less equal measure. I don’t see how we can ever be expected to understand the death of a young person in the prime of life. It’s true that our friend, Cote, touched the world in immeasurable and lasting ways in his abbreviated, two-decade life. Still… I really wish he had stayed with us a while longer.

For the Father of Sandro Gulotta (whose son was dying of leukemia)

by Janet Lewis:

When I called the children from play

Where the Westering Sun

Fell level between the leaves of olive and bay

There, where the day lilies stand, 

I paused to touch with a curious hand

The single blossom, furled, that with morning had opened wide,

The long bud tinged with gold of an evening sky.

All day and only one day it drank the sunlit air:

In one day

All that it needed to do in this world it did

And at evening precisely curled the tender petals

To shield from wind, from dew the pollen laden heart.

Sweet treasure gathered apart from our grief. 

From our longing view.

Who shall say if the day was too brief for the flower, if time lacked?

Had it not, like the children – 

All time in their long, immortal day?

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
This entry was posted in Children/Teens/Young Adults, Harvard-related, My story and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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