-Guy Gavriel Kay, “The Darkest Road”
Three years ago today, Little Quinn was born.
His short life was terribly, terribly difficult — so difficult, in fact, that even though he’s been gone for longer now than he was with us, we still stand in his shadow. We try to move out, but in truth, some part of us will remain in his shadow for all the rest of our days. His tale is not yet over, and its end may yet be a sad one.
His wasn’t a life that made for the kind of happiness one associates with a baby. Instead, the happiness that he brought came with a series of prices we’ve yet to finish paying, the happiness came in very small moments that would end as quickly as they came, and the happiness was always leavened with sadness that will remain a part of us forevermore.
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
I recently had occasion to tell a very dear friend that as I grow older, I see life more and more as a journey. Each of us walks a series of unmarked roads into and out of countries both beautiful and not, seemingly going nowhere in particular but always, inexorably, ever so cruelly, toward Mr. Whitman’s unknown region:
DAREST thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?
No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou���������all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream���������d of, in that region���������that inaccessible land.
Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.
Then we burst forth���������we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul���������prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last���������(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.
What makes the journey worthwhile, it turns out, is not the places we see along the way, but the companions who share our path. Some only walk the byways with us for a short while, others longer; and then there are those who somehow continue to mark our way even though they themselves are long, long gone.
Come, my friends.
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
When I finally come to the shore of that same country, I hope that my son is there on the pier, waiting to take my hand.
(Regular blogging, including the Sunday Burst of Weirdness, will resume tomorrow. “The Gray Havens” painting by John Howe.)