“The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” Elizabeth Bishop wrote, advising the loser to lose more, lose faster, beginning with car keys and going on to houses and finally to the people we love.
Her advice is good but not enough. The art of losing, if it can even be called an art, can’t be mastered. It lodges too deep. I don’t know how to dig it up, if indeed it can be dug up.
I have, in memory at least, music and poetry, song and dance—the so-called light arts, which are for me the only arts that matter.
And what guidance the church can give, which is not really guidance, since there is no such thing, and is not really consolation, since there is no such thing. But the words, the words, the words:
Psalm 144, verses 3-4:
“Oh Lord, what are we that you should care for us?
Mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind, our days are like a passing shadow.”
Or Shakespeare, in Macbeth: each mortal is
“a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”
As we begin to prepare for Will’s funeral service in Louisville and the burial of his ashes at Wolf Pen Mill Farm—a place he loved and might have lived—we will all look at one of his last photos and remember the light that always surrounded him and always will.