By Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails
to the moving 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,
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 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…
This poetic sonnet has been used by Hospice centers worldwide to help
grieving families cope with the loss of a loved one. It was given to me the day I lost my father, and I lettered it for an ecard when I learned I was losing my mother to cancer as well. — Pete Barkelew, Founder, Inspire21