I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
— Henry Van Dyke, I Am Standing Upon The Seashore
When we lose someone, what do we miss the most? Their physical presence? Or their fresh perspective? They may always be with us, even without these things, but these things matter too. They matter deeply.
When we lose someone we lose the essence of that person in our lives. Yet we still feel them with us. It’s not our time to sail off over that horizon. But we wonder at just what’s over it just the same.