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The Trouble with Time

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The trouble with time is that it only goes forward. The second you needed to read that first sentence is gone forever. You cannot have it back. There go a few more. Tragedy and joy pass with equal swiftness. No matter how wonderful or horrific a moment, it cannot be altered or replayed, except in your dreams and your nightmares.

Time is what gives life meaning in the most literal sense. This is another way of putting the well-known phrase that death is what defines life. Life does not always go on. Time always goes on. Time takes each life along with it as a courtesy that can be revoked at any moment. We have memories, photographs, and countless mythologies to perpetuate the spirit of the dead among the living. These are the feeble tools we have assembled to confront the magnitude of our inability to cope with death.

Find comfort where you may. Time has passed and it has taken life with it. Since you started reading this dozens, perhaps hundreds, of human lives have ended. We can only hope no one we know and love, no one sleeping in the next room, was included in their number. Because of course death is also a punishment for the living, those left behind to wail, to protest, to question. One life? No. Many lives, many families, entire communities suffer.

Time treats us all equally, not fairly. The flow of minutes from morning to afternoon on a single sunny Bahamian day can shatter. At six-thirty a.m. you say goodbye to a virile 30-year-old, an ideal husband and doting father of a small son, as he heads out on a routine spear-fishing trip. Four hundred and twenty minutes later you are identifying his lifeless body and holding your sister for what seem like hours. But they are only minutes and they are gone.

Next come days of fresh grief with each notification, cold logistics and planning, the love of family and friends united by tragedy, and the blessed incomprehension of children. Is it affliction or miracle that time and memory spare a child the understanding that he spent the first three years of his life with his father and will now spend the rest of his life without him? The books that only Papa could read will lie unread.

We survive, as life mandates even where the will fails. We survive on shared memories, shared blood, and neighbors' casseroles tasting of tears and love. We have lost a husband, a friend, a brother, a son, a father, a Frenchman, a fisherman, a scientist. He was so much more than all of those things and he will be missed beyond the ability to describe. Rest in peace, JB.

I'll be in the Bahamas for the next few weeks and posting will be sporadic.


My condolences to you and your family

I'm so sorry for the loss you and your sister and families have suffered. I'm sure your sister is thankful that you are there with her. My heart breaks for you all.

My condolences, Mig. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time...

My condolences to all of you

My heartfelt thoughts are with you.

wow mig. i am sorry for your loss. much sympathy to you and yours.

Mig, my condolences to you and your family. Be strong, and don't worry about the DD. First things first. We'll be here when you get back.

Mig sure had me going in the first three paragraphs... i seriously thought it was somber end-of-year-ruminations or a mid-life crisis flaring up.

We're so sorry, Mig. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

Sorry for your loss, Mig.

My condolences, Mig.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, your sister and your families Mig.

As Drummer said so elequently, don't worry about the blog and DD right now, it and we will all be here and be thinking of you.


What you have written is both eloquent and heartfelt. May his memory abound and bring joy to the hearts of those who knew and loved him.

My condolences to you and your family, Mig.

My condolences to you, your sister, and your family.

The good thing about time is that it can help to ameliorate the most painful experiences.

My sincere condolences are with you.

In your family's time of grief, remember to not only mourn the loss, but celebrate the life he lived. Tell and re-tell the stories, both happy and sad. Laugh until you cry, and cry until there is nothing left to give.

My condolences and best wishes for you and your family, Mig.

My condolences to you, your sister, and your family.

What an eloquent and beautiful lament on the human condition!

My deepest condolences to you and yours.

I'm really sorry for your loss. Terrible thing for someone like him, a father and so young.

Tragic, to say the least :-(.
My heartfelt condolences. Please take care and may the almighty give you and his family strength.

My condolences to you and your family, Mig.

In the words of the immortal W. H. Auden:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

My condolences to you and yours, Mig.

My condolences to you and your family, Mig.

Thomas Stearns Eliot :

If Time and Space, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The sun which does not feel decay
No greater is then we.
So why, Love, should we ever pray
to live a century?
The butterfly that lives a day
Has lived eternity.

The flowers I gave thee when the dew
Was trembling on the vine,
Were withered ere the wild bee flew
To suck the eglentine.
So let us haste to pluck anew
Nor mourn to see them pine,
And though our days of love be few
Yet let them be divine.

If Space and Time, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
Has lived as long as we.
But let us live while yet we may,
While love and life are free,
For time is time, and runs away,
Though sages disagree.

Beautifully written.

Mig, my condolences.


Beautifully expressed; I hope some of the truth of the words can help heal the sadness for your sister and family. Please accept my condolences.


Wow. Words cannot fully capture or convey the depth of human emotion, but this reminiscence, like Auden's poem, comes close. In snowy southern Utah, for a few moments today, I share your pain. My condolences to you, your sister and your nephew.

The bleak sunshine shrieks its chipped music. (not my words, but Allen Tate's)

My heart goes out to your sister, nephew and you.

Mig, my heart goes out to you and your family at this very difficult time. Bless you all.

Very sorry to hear this, Mig. Do take care of the little one, and comfort your sister. You wrote touchingly.

Mig, my condolences.

For the soul there is neither birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does it ever cease to be. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval.

No weapons can hurt the Soul, no fire burn it, no waters moisten it and no wind can dry it. The soul is imperishable, eternal, unchanging, immutable and without beginning. (Bhagavad Gita 2:23.)

Mig, mes condoléances

Sorry to hear of your loss Mig. That you could write something so touching at such a painful time is amazing. Take care of yourself and your family.

Mig, my condolences.

My condolences to all of you

Very sorry about this tragedy Mig. Take care of yourself and your family.

My heartfelt condolences, I am so very sorry to hear the news. Your beautifuly penned note captures the pain of bereavement well. I hope the written word, both yours and that of poets mentioned above and elsewhere can assuage the pain to some extent. It has helped me in the past.

Mig, You have descibed a human tradegy with an eloquence so stunningly beautiful as to make it universal. I truly thank you for that.

I seldom have read something as true and moving as what you wrote here, Mig. I dare myself to thinking we're friends, and really want you to know I stand by you in this terrible moment. Be strong, even though it's not easy to be strong in such occasions. Sandro

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 29, 2007 1:25 PM.

    'Twas the Night Before Christmas was the previous entry in this blog.

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