Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Epitaph by Merrit Mallow at Frank Fisher's Funeral

I'd like to thank Frank Fisher for this poem.

Frank died on April 29th, 2019.  We went to his funeral today and the Rabbi read this poem by Merrit Mallow called "Epitaph."  It was beautiful.

I'd kind of like to know if Frank knew of this poem and appreciated it himself or not.  No matter, though -- I appreciated it either way.  Frank's funeral provided more than an opportunity to learn of this poem, however.  It also made it a lot more meaningful.  When the Rabbi read the poem, I had been thinking about Frank's life, his family and colleagues he left behind.  By living the life he did and drawing people to his funeral as he did -- people who spoke about their memories of Frank and his legacy -- Frank "framed" the poem for me.  Thank you, Frank.

But before I share the poem with you, I'd also like to thank my mother, Barbi, for teaching me these principles to live by so that, one day, I could attend Frank's funeral, hear this poem, and feel it deeply.  Mom did not preach or lecture on these subjects;  she just lived them, often embarrassing us in the process.  We were acutely aware that nobody ELSE lived that way.  (It seemed that Frank sometimes embarrassed his children as well).  Mom tried to explain herself but despite the sheer number of words she shared with us, I'm not sure she ever really succeeded in explaining these principles she lived by.  She felt them, for sure.  And she modeled them.  When she hugged you she was hugging everyone she was ever attached to.  I mean everyone.  It didn't matter if she had known them for a lifetime or a 5 minute, random encounter on the street.  It didn't even matter if they were living or dead.  She literally "loved" and "remembered" them all.  And that was a LOT of people.

And then she INSISTED on giving that love away.

And so, I guess it rubbed off.

And so, we pass it on.  Here it is.

By Merrit Malloy

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

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