I had thought I would write about the grieving process and how we know little about the consequences and changes caused by loss, except as we look back. I have not been able to do so, perhaps later in a poem. At the end of this blog entry, I do have a poem by Vladimir Nabokov about the loss of youth.
My youth was spent in the dream of government service in the State Department. In the summer of 1963, I was so privileged to have a summer internship at the new Peace Corps in
I could see the White House
D.C. Lafayette Square
from my borrowed office.
seemed filled with excitement and hope. It was Camelot. My boss was the
President’s brother-in-law. Twice, I was awe-struck to be in the presence of
the President. I shook hands with two of his brothers. Truly, it was an awesome
experience for a young man from the Washington Rockies. I
was filled with hope that fall as I passed the Foreign Service exam and saw my
life on the trajectory that I had dreamed, so supported by my family. It was
not to be.
The 50th anniversary commemorations of President Kennedy’s assassination brought days of reflection on my part. November 22,1963 was chilly in
but the sun was shining. I remember walking across campus to lunch at home with
my friends. The phone was ringing when I opened the door. A political friend
was on the phone with the unbelievable news. Everyone was in shock. No emotion. No
talking. We had Boulder ’s
Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. We ate in silence. At
such moments, every detail remains etched. Campbell
I knew at that moment my life had changed for ever. The day remained mostly in silence, just a constant droning of the radio, as college students we did not have t.v. I have little remembrance of what was being said, just the unending drone. Late in the day, I finally found a church, Roman Catholic, with the doors open. This bereft, not very religious young man sat alone in the back pew near statues of saints I knew little about, near quietly weeping elderly women and realized I could not cry. And, truly my life had changed forever.
We So Firmly Believed
We so firmly believed in the linkage of life,
but now I’ve looked back ─ and it is astonishing
to what a degree you, my youth,
seem in tints not mine, in traits not real.
If one probes it, it’s rather like a wave’s haze
between me and you, between shallow and sinking,
or else I see telegraph poles and you from the back
as right into the sunset you ride your half-racer.
You’ve long ceased to be I. You’re an outline – the hero
of any first chapter; yet how long we believed
that there was no break in the way from the damp dell
to the alpine heath.