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Life From the After

“I wrote a song called ‘Death Is Not the End’ a couple of years ago, and I never finished it. But I liked the idea, because I guess I don’t believe that it is the end. I carry so many ancestors with me on a daily basis. I experience my father regularly. I experience Clarence. I experience my old assistant, Terry Magovern. They visit me in my dreams quite often — I may see them, you know, several times a year.

So, this idea is you don’t lose everything when someone dies. You do lose their physical presence, but their physical presence is not all of them, and it never was all of them, even when they were alive. Spirit is very strong. Emotion is very strong. Their energy is very strong. And a lot of this, particularly for people who are very powerful, really carries over after death.– Bruce Springsteen, from Robert Love Interview: Bruce Springsteen, A Homecoming, AARP

I recognize the larger than life people who have passed from my life in this quote. I hear their laughter, see the twinkle in their eye, feel their presence in certain moments. Those we’ve lost return to us over and over again, if not in physical form.

Memorial Day in the United States honors those we’ve lost in battle, and I honor them as well. I think of my uncle, whom I never met, who died in the Korean War. I feel his presence, not as a person but as a hole in the family often mentioned with reverence by those who once knew him. Even as those who did know him pass away themselves, his presence remains. His presence was very strong, and amplified by his abrupt and premature passing in war. Those who were touched by him have touched me, and the ripple continues across the pond.

That’s the thing about losing someone. Their presence filled us, and without that there’s a void in our lives. The void remains, even as other things like children and work and friendships fill in around it. Springsteen points out that they’re never really gone, they’re just physically not here. The larger they were in life the more of them remains with us after life.

This Memorial Day I think about those who carry over after death. Ripples big and small, reverberating in this life from the after. And I honor and celebrate their time here. And know they’ve never really left us.

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