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Between a Death and a Life
by Christopher Walsh, 9/17/2017-9/24/2017





I've lived longer than some.
Yes, I know: all of us have,
As death is staggered through existence.
It always eventually happens. We see it. We learn of it.
We don't hear of every death: too many, simply, happen,
Outside the sphere of What We Know.
It is a kindness, not to know of every death.
I'm thinking of the deaths I've known.
I could, perhaps, count them. I won't.
I don't want personal deaths to be a statistic, a percentage, a number,
Though of course a number exists.
Many numbers:
Family members, gone;
Friends, gone;
Colleagues, gone;
Acquaintances, gone;
Known-in-passing, gone.

I don't remember when I first learned of death.
(I missed John Lennon's.)
Death by disaster was an abstract:
Dozens, hundreds, in a plane that fell or in a land that quaked, and more.
Then, the shuttle Challenger: seven people lost.
This was not abstract.
I saw it live, at home, on a day off from school:
Death in front of me, on a screen.
Death will get near to you.
It then becomes a fact, and a possibility that insists on itself:
"This person, they didn't see what came next.
Not that person, either. Nor those others.
They missed the future. As will you."
Those we've lost:
What parts of the future would they wish they'd seen?
("All of it" is a cop-out. And false.
If you died in ’97, you never knew what "9/11" means.)
What have we done since that we wish they'd been here for,
That they'd experienced through their filters?
A guess is the best we can manage;
Their filters are no longer here.
So we weren't a figment of their imagination: or why'd we still be here?
(And we're no figment of your imagination, either,
Unless imagining has a power we don't know...)

John Lennon died 37 years ago.
Kate Middleton arrived 35 years ago.
No overlap to their lives.
She and he will never meet. He never heard of her.
Him not knowing doesn't mean she doesn't exist.
We know who
-------------what we're missing;
We don't know who
-----------—-------what we'll get.
Meanwhile,
We live, and we discover.
Others' lives overlap, giving them the chance to learn what's discovered;
And others born a year, a decade, a century after one of us passes
May learn what's learned.
Knowledge is bigger than death.
Knowledge reaches the future,
As do other, later lives.
Many will see what we miss
Between a death and a life.

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